February 2 2006

Well, Well, Well

Gee, haven’t I said before that the decline in music sales may be linked more to poor music quality than to pirtates? Why, yes, I believe I have. Well, now the Associated Press and Rolling Stone magazine have conduscted a survey that agrees with me. From January 23rd to the 25th, 1,000 people were randomly from the lower 48 states. Of those people, 963 were regular music listners.

According to Nielsen Soundscan, 762.8 million CDs were sold in 2001, in 2005 that number was down to 618.9 million. At the same time, in 2005 legal digital music sales soared to 325.7 million tracks sold. The scary thing is only 15% of the 963 respondets said they had ever bought music online, meaning a small number of people are acocunting for all those sales.

Here is, what I feel, is the most important paragraph of the whole article:

Many fans also say they just don’t like what they’re hearing. It may not be surprising to hear older fans say music just isn’t what it used to be when they were growing up. But the poll also found that 49 percent of music fans ages 18-to-34 _ the target audience for the music business _ say music is getting worse.

and the second most important:

Overall, music fans were split on why music sales have been declining for the past five years: 33 percent said it was because of illegal downloads, 29 percent said it was because of competition from other forms of entertainment, 21 percent blamed it on the quality of music getting worse and 13 percent said it was because CDs are too expensive.

I would have expected the number saying CDs are too expensive to be higher, but that’s neither here-nor-there. The most important thing is that while 21% overall blamed the quality of music, the number sky rockets to 49% in the all-important key demographic of 18 – 49 year olds. I would like to have seen a bigger breakdown of who makes up the 33% that believes illegal downloading is the biggest factor, but I have a feeling that would turn out to be the older demographic, and I only think that because of the media bias that has said time and time again that downloading is to blame.

So what do we learn from all this? Music is too expensive, listeners are disgruntled and a goodly number do feel that the quality has been slipping as of late. Perhaps the music industry should stop worrying about so much about whose making off with the crappy music as they should about improving the quality of what’s being stolen?

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