Apple’s iPod drives U.S. music sales up for first time in four years

“Sales of recorded music in the United States are on the rise for the first time in four years. The recording industry registered sales of about 667 million albums, an increase of about 1.6 percent, according to year-end data expected to be released today by the market research firm Nielsen SoundScan,” The New York Times reports.

“The data, covering a 52-week period, also show that the industry is beginning to tap the power of the Internet to generate sales, though free music still flows through online file-sharing networks. Sales of digital tracks through services like iTunes from Apple Computer exceeded 140 million, Nielsen SoundScan was expected to announce,” The New York Times reports. “While the data appear to diminish industry concerns that sales of individual songs online would cannibalize sales of CD’s, it is far from clear whether the industry will be able to develop profitable online business models. The data show that consumers buy individual tracks for about 99 cents much more often than they download full-length albums, which carry a higher price tag.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: All of those new iPods out there hunger for music on their tiny hard drives, it would seem. The more iPods out there, the better music sales will be, since iPod allows you to take music more places and listen in more personal ways. It ain’t Wave Radios or wonderful new artists doing this, folks. If you think Apple’s iPod isn’t behind the sales rise, please tell us what is driving up music sales for the first time in four years.

As for the mourning over album versus singles sales, perhaps if the music industry put out full-length albums full of good songs, they’d sell better than individual hits? Of course, this hardly ever happens, since by definition a hit is a rarer gem and contains something extraordinary that the other songs do not. Not every song on an album can be a hit (especially if your average artist is putting out an album every 18 months).

Perhaps the flawed “album” model is an artificial construct that was designed to grab more money by prepackaging the average (or worse) with a hit or two (at best)? We think that the health of the “album” shouldn’t be worried about by anyone other than those who profited from it. The industry can be “concerned” all they like and for as long as they wish, but at some point they should probably wake up and realize that the rip-off “album” paradigm they invented and nursed along for all these years has long since died. Have the funeral already and let’s get on with it.


  1. The pay-per-song will succeed albums. If I recall correctly, the Beatles would come out with an old 45 with 3 songs on it more than once a year. That 3 song 45 used to be the model for success and much more similar to pay-per-song now.

  2. Disclaimer for Tommy Boy: “Greatest Hits packages and certain Beatles albums excepted. We’d be even bigger Beatles fans if they’d stop frivolously suing Apple Computer every time they smell a buck.”

  3. Sometimes I buy Albums on iTunes. If I like more than 4 or 5 of the songs at all then it feels like a better deal if there are more than 12 or so tracks on the album. Sure the other songs aren’t stellar but a lot of times they are pretty good and I can get 7 or 8 or more for less than 5 dollars.

  4. Um… why do you have a “full story here” link on the main page, yet it doesn’t take you there? You have to click again on the next page to go the actual story source. Just curious. Awesome site, it’s my home page on all my macs.

    Oh, the story… right… It’s still a rip that an iTunes album is $10, with no profit going to Apple (Steve Jobs, Macworld 2003) and no hardware to manufacture by the record distributors (no CD’s, artwork, case, distribution, shipping, etc…) and NO money going now to the artists. Reasonable well known now that the bands make their $ on tour, NOT by music sales. I’d pay $10, or more, knowing that at least 10% would go to the musicians. Ridiculous.

  5. MacDailyNews Webmaster

    I think you’ll find it’s that leech McCartney that keeps sueing Apple. I am good friends with one of his Neice’s, who lives in Wallasey, one of the most deprived areas of England. He doesn’t even give good Christmas presents!!!

    Come on Macca, give us all a break.

  6. Hey Tommy Boy,

    How about this revision: “With the current crop of so-called ‘artists’ being shoved into the public’s face by money-grubbing labels, it is difficult for every song to be a hit (especially if your average [moderately-talented] ‘artist’ is putting out an album every 18 months).” Better?

    I agree with MDN’s take on this. In most cases, label reps look for the latest “Boy-band wannabe”, or the next “Soon-to-be-bullet-riddled Tu-Pac/Notorious B.I.G./[insert name here] hip-hop, no-education, inner-city, ‘keepin-it-real’, coke-sniffin’, hoe-banging, Gangsta wannabe”.

    Perhaps labels should get back to looking for musicians. You know, like they used to. Instead, what happens is that they just look for what’s currently ‘hot’ and then they try to find another ‘artist’ to copy it. There is very little risk-taking or long-term artist development anymore, but that’s another story.

    Let me just say that there are very few singer/songwriters anymore, that write original material and play it for a living, that are receiving support/financial backing from labels. As a result, we get a lot of ‘music’, but hardly anything of long-term, substantive value. A lot of ‘one-hit wonders’ or crap. Nothing like when the Beatles (and I could name several other artists or bands) would write a bunch of music, sometimes play it live to see what the audiences liked, and then select the best cuts to put on an album.

    I’m afraid that those days are gone. At least until the label execs get their collective heads out of their posteriors and realize that the reason people aren’t buying as many CD’s/albums as they once did is because they are peddling sh!t. The laws of supply and demand are at work. That’s part of the reason a lot of (real) artists are promoting their work online now through outlets like CDbaby.

    I must say though, since getting my iPod, my CD purchases have increased significantly, yet I haven’t purchased anything from the ITMS. My wife’s song purchases have been about 60% ITMS with about 40% CD tracks.

    But besides that, the reality is that hardly anyone under 35 years old even gives a crap about the Beatles anymore, much less know who they are. Sorry.

    End of rant.

  7. “But besides that, the reality is that hardly anyone under 35 years old even gives a crap about the Beatles anymore, much less know who they are. Sorry.”

    Clearly, you are not under 35 years, and don’t know what you’re talking about.

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