Vinyl, Cassettes & Retail

Adjust For Inflation & Decline In Music Sales Looks Worse Than We Thought

image from There were all kinds of questions and comments about a chart published last week that offered "A Graphic Look At 25 Years Of Music Sales". Some of the controversy around the chart is answered with a new infographic that adjust music sales for inflation.  The resulting snapshot is even uglier.  According to the new chart, music sales are down 64% from their peak, not 45% as shown previously

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From Silicon Alley Insiider

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  1. I wonder if digital is roughly equivalent to the old vinyl singles market. It would be interesting to see how digital singles/albums compares to vinyl singles/albums back in the day.
    It is also interesting to note that the product life cycle seems to be about 20 years for cassettes and 25 or 30 for cds. Peak consumption seems to be about 15 years into life cycle. If that were to hold true for digital, peak consumption would be 2018 or so . . .

  2. Actually this looks better in some ways. It means the 90s weren’t such an anomaly, and if 40 years is enough time for anyone to comfortably make a prediction about future sales, I don’t see a reason to be worried. The decline of CDs isn’t much sharper than the decline of vinyl, and if digital costs less to manufacture and distribute than cassettes, what we’re seeing is completely reasonable.

  3. That is a really good point. The digital costs are much lower, so the revenue has a much higher profit margin. I guess that doesn’t help labels with their fixed costs, but over time should help artists as they find ways to market more directly to their fans.
    It would be interesting to look at the value chain for each format–how much went to labels, pressing, promotion, artists, distribution, etc.

  4. That’s a much better version of this chart but it still implies more data points than there are and presents the data in an odd way that’s hard to read. I prefer these two at Digital Music News

  5. The last big dip in music sales occurred in 1982 which was the last big recession prior to the current one…..
    But the decline also has to be related to the crappy music promoted on the radio.

  6. What I see as a trend in marketing analysis, may it be music sales or any other commodity, is that ppl seem totally oblivious about the REAL problem which has been the basic cause for most economical fluctuations during the last 100 years… THE BANKS who only are the front for a totally sinister agenda.
    What do you expect will happen when we have to feed the resource and wealth hogging BANKS in all aspects of our lives with BILLIONS of $$ and €’s, forcing all population of earth to participate in a totally non-sustainable society model. Of course the music sales will go down… may it be vinyl or digital downloads.
    It’s petty to see that ppl still to this day live like in permanent hypnosis by the corrupt media and malicious governments continues falsification of the truth.
    By trying to separate out a single market (or music publishing Format) in making stats (like above) only shows that someone still is inept to connect the necessary pieces of the whole, getting stuck in absolutely nonsense details. Exactly what we’re conditioned to by above mentioned power elite entities, who in the background continue skimming us, the people, by Millions of Dollars, minute by minute, second by second.
    Hey ho Dudes, it’s time to WAKE UP, seriously. Stop wasting others time, abusing your inherently free intelligence by beating around the bush. Like you’re scared of addressing what’s really going on, which is infecting every aspect of human life on the whole planet, incl. music sales…
    Hey, b.t.w., nothing personal, we’re all in the same boat, and it’s a big leak in the hull right now. If it ain’t fixed we will ALL sink. Period. And the captain is scheming to plan a private escape in one of the few life-boats still available…
    Ricky – QPA Psychedelic Trance Music Production

  7. Ricky – It’s really hard to say exactly what makes up loss for which part and how much of the music industry, but blaming it on conspiracies revolving around government/banking (corrupt media has been around since well… the dawn of media!) is just foolish.
    If you try to act like sales are in decline for those reasons, and not because of the growth in digital streaming, illegal downloading, and a myriad of other reasons discussed on hypebot, you are just kidding yourself.

  8. The decline of CDs isn’t the alarming factor here. It is the lack of digital sales picking up the slack. If the trends continue as the graph indicates, then we have to wait for the next medium to arrive, and we haven’t even settled on a business model for the current medium. The lower costs are nice, but they come with lower prices negating any margin you would have obtained. I hate sounding this bleak, but this is how I read the chart.

  9. Music is garbage now days. I have’t bought a C.D. for 9 years now because music isn’t worth a penny out of my pocket anymore. I will stick to my 90’s music. I won’t buy the mp3 or the album until I hear good music get played on the radio.

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