Long Tail author and WIRED editor Chris Anderson took a look at the "death-of-the-blockbuster stats" for 2006. Most teliing s the decline in gold, platinum, multiplatinum albums (respectively 500,000, 1,000,00 and 1-10 million units sold). According to the RIAA's database, just 285 albums were awarded one of those certifications in 2006, the lowest figure in 23 years.
According Anderson, "at least three things are killing the blockbuster album, beside the decline of the hit across our culture: 1) the overall malaise of the music industry (sales for the first half of last year were down 6%, end year numbers aren't out yet); 2) a shift from albums to singles online; 3) the decline of Top 40 radio, which is the main marketing vehicle for hits." (more)