July 25, 2005
An industry in crisis.
Last night I was reading a book called The Rise and Fall of Popular Music, which quoted the following figures: in 1985 the US music industry made a pre-tax profit of US$200 million on gross sales of US$4.5 billion - a lousy 2.5% return (pre-tax!). Even worse, they did so with expenditures of US$60 million on "promotion, some of which, everybody knew, was kicked back to corporate vice-presidents".
Obviously, in that era some people got rich - Madonna and Bruce Springsteen leap to mind and some really great music was made (not necesarily by the same people). But pair that data with figures like those from Phil Tripp and Alex Malik: in 2004, in the USA, there were "30,000 album releases. There were only 100 certifiable hits. Albums that made a hefty profit. Of those 30,000 titles, only 1000 sold over 5000 copies. Only 5000 sold over 1000 copies. In other words, 25,000 releases sold less than 1000 copies each" and "a 42% decline in the number of titles released over four years is a fact". I don't have any figures for the years in between, but assuming the pattern holds (and there's no reason to think it doesn't), you see a picture of an industry in which the costs of corruption have forced the risk of album release unsustainably high - and the result has been a reduction in production. This is clearly an industry in trouble.
Thank God alternatives are now available for people who want something other than low-risk, low-value musical wallpaper.Posted by Huge at July 25, 2005 10:38 AM