The Billboard Bulletin reported this week that the week ending May 30 clocks in as the lowest week for number of albums sold since Soundscan began tracking sales in 1994. At first I was in shock but then I remembered the music business has been headed in that direction for quite a while. I tweeted about the information and received many responses asking my thoughts on what was causing the decline. Honestly, I was at a lost for words for a minute. In the past, the last week of May would have been a great week as retailers ran huge sales with “graduation” themes. My first thoughts were to blame it on the BP Oil spill, Obama, global warming, downloading or lack of hits. Then I remembered the many things over the last 15 years that appeared as warning signs. Many of the independent retailers screamed out the warning signs but the music industry chose to ignore them. First the home video industry took a bite out of the entertainment dollar, then it was video games and while both of those were going on, the music price wars were in full force. The way our world consumes entertainment does, always has and always will continue to change. We can’t stop it. However, the music industry does appear to be stepping back in time as it has once again become a singles business. Consumers are now enjoying the ability to “cherry pick”. I must admit, I do my share of “cherry picking”. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we didn’t have the ability to “cherry pick?” The movie industry amazes me at how they continue to grow. Not only are they able to continue to increase ticket sales but many customers also buy the DVD when it is released. They don’t give consumers the ability to pay for and receive only a portion of a film. A movie is considered a full body of work. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if the music industry forced iTunes and all digital retailers to move to the “album only” format? Yes, I know the fears of driving consumers to steal music but with the way sales are plummeting, it doesn’t appear they are buying music anyway? Instead, all we hear is that music is moving towards the “free” models. Is that really the direction the music industry has to go? The only people that hold the power to “Turn the Beat Around” are the content owners. Isn’t it time that the music content owners band together and stop the madness? The world will be a boring place without a song!
How would you “Turn the Beat Around?”