Sometimes I think people get so involved in trying to make a grand point that they miss the obvious one. Such is the case with the International Herald Tribune's article entitled "CD sales falling faster than digital music sales rise". In it they say...
Global music sales dropped 8 percent to $19.4 billion in 2007, according to a report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Revenue came in at its slowest pace since at least 1997, the first year for which the body issued figures. Physical sales of CDs and DVDs fell 13 percent to $15.9 billion. Sales of downloaded songs and mobile-phone ringtones rose 34 percent to $2.9 billion.
Digital sales "are growing healthily but, crucially, not fast enough to arrest the overall decline of the market," said John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of the industry group.
Tackling online piracy is essential to the industry's fortunes, according to the report. "Even the most innovative business models are totally undermined by free music," Kennedy said. There were 30 billion illegal downloads in 2007, with 39 percent of teenagers in the U.S. using file-sharing networks to access pirated music, he said.
Now I have been a staunch critique of music piracy but I doubt this is about that. This is about everyone missing a very important detail.
By design, digital sales are going to bring music sales in general down.
A long, long time ago someone in the music industry made an ingenious sales decision. That person created the concept of "an album" and used it to package an artist's lack luster songs with their great ones and charge the same amount for both. This scheme has been around for so long that we forget just how brilliant a sales move it was.
But it was such a brilliant move that I suspect it at least doubled the sales of the music industry. Now that people can get around it you can expect sales to fall in a big way. That, in my opinion, is a much more likely cause for this fall than piracy is.
Look, Music Piracy in kids has always existed so I don't think that is going to cause a drop. Adult music piracy is a new problem but by every measure I've seen its a relatively small one so while I oppose it on principle I don't think its making much of a dent in the industries' sales either.
So if sales are dropping I doubt it has anything to do with Piracy especially when a much more likely candidate exists in the sales of individual song sales.