album sales hit lowest ever in the USAIt’s another nail in the coffin of the conventional music industry, another death nail in the Way Things Were with the news that weekly album sales in the US have this week plummeted to their lowest since Nielson SoundScan began tracking data in 1991, reports Billboard.

With streaming growing very quickly even the vinyl revival has made little difference and the way people consume music has utterly changed the landscape. Music is still a key part of our culture but the days of carrying chunks of it around are very much over.

A total of 3.97million albums were sold in the US last week, which is the lowest weekly sum since records began in 1991. It’s also the first time weekly sales have dropped below 4million. The chart-topping album, ‘Blacc Hollywood’ by Wiz Khalifa (pictured), sold 90,000 in its first week.

The only recent album to sell conventional large amounts was from Jack White.

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  1. Not exactly breathtaking news – albums have been steadily selling less and less for years. Meanwhile, sales of singles (‘single’ being individual songs in any format) seem to be doing pretty well…


    The way people consume music is shifting, and has been for years now.

    As it happens, I think if albums become less important in the grand scheme of things, while individual songs become *more* important, that’ll be a good thing for music. It’ll spell the end of the filler track, for a start. No more padding an album with some lacklustre will-this-do song half way down the track list, and hoping nobody notices. Now, every song has to hold its own, individually. That should concentrate artists’ minds wonderfully on keeping up the quality control.

    Dave Allen (out of the Gang Of Four and Shriekback), in his current incarnation as a music biz analyst, wrote a piece back in 2009 about The End of the Album as the Organising Principle (it’s on the web somewhere), in which he predicted that the music biz would have to change its entire working practices to accommodate the new reality. Six years on, the music biz seems to be clinging to the old ways with bloodied fingernails.

    Not much surprise there – the music biz typically responds to change by fighting a rearguard action against reality. The album is still the hook upon which the entire industry chooses to hang itself (pertinent metaphor there!) Everything – contracts, tours, interviews, merchandise, the entire creaking machine – revolves around bands making albums.

    And yet fewer and fewer people are buying albums…while the industry insists on giving its customers more of what they don’t want, and structuring itself on the basis of a principle that more and more people find irrelevant.

    A crunch point will come sooner or later, and I’m sure there will be a great wailing and gnashing of teeth when that happens. Plenty of people will wring their hands and declare that it’s all doom and disaster. But it won’t be doom, and it won’t be disaster.

    It’ll just be different.


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