Music is a huge part of worldwide culture, and is as important to society as books. Recently though music is failing to meet desirable sale predictions, and could be falling permanently.
Linkin Park, one of America’s #1 rock bands first album, Hybrid Theory (2000) went on to sell over 10 million copies in the US. Now Imagine Dragons, one of the most popular rock bands at the moment, their second album, Smoke+Mirrors has first week sales of 175,000. Is the industry not as popular as the early 2000’s, or is it something else?
Sales used to be the #1 resource to evaluate a certain album/song’s popularity, but now with the rise of streaming, as well as it’s shadow, piracy, music may just be evolving.
This isn’t the end of the music industry, it’s only the beginning. When digital sales came along, it was hell on earth it seemed to music lovers, the same can be said about streaming. The one thing you need to keep in mind through this evolution process is what happens when a platform gets more popular, they explode. Streaming on spotify has increased an estimated 250% since 2014, and is still growing. That means sales could soon be obsolete, and artist could be paid the same or even better than digital sales. This is only the beginning for music.
Now to answer the initial question, lets look back on Linkin Park’s glory days. Hybrid Theory was a huge milestone in rock history, but while the album has sold 10 million domestically and 30 worldwide, it’s leading single “In The End” has barely reached 1 million domestically. This is obviously due to digital sales involvement. In that era, albums were the easiest way to get the singles you wanted, and still support your band. Now on itunes you can choose individual songs instead of the entire album. Thats why you see Imagine Dragon’s debut Night Visions sell 4 million worldwide yet it’s lead single “Radioactive” reach 13 million worldwide sales.
Streaming is also a huge asset to the industry in terms of album listens. Instead of Night Visions selling 4 million worldwide, you can see a larger streaming involvement, with the album on spotify racking up over a half a billion listens.