Has digital music killed the album?

has digital music killed the albumAfter many years of discussion – and more than a few of straight-up panic-mongering and uncertain, uneasy optimism and anywhere in between – it looks as if the collective music industry’s worst fears about the evolution of the digital market are coming true. Overall album sales are down, leading some to believe that digital music has finally managed to finish off the format… and perhaps by accident.

Paid Content compared music sales data from both sides of the Atlantic and found that, in both the US and UK, album sales are down, falling 3.2 percent in the United States and a worrying 13.8 percent in the United Kingdom when compared with the previous year. Oddly enough, this is bad news hidden amongst a lot of really good news in each report: On both reports, overall music sales are rising in 2012 compared with the same period of 2011, in some cases significantly. US digital track sales have risen 5.6 percent when comparing Q2 2012 to Q2 2011, and digital album sales are up 13.7 percent in the same comparison period; vinyl album sales in the US are also up in Q2 2012, rising 14.2 percent, suggesting that what’s actually happening to albums is a wholescale collapse of the CD market.

That story seems to be paralleled with what’s happening in the United Kingdom, with the British Phonographic Industry reporting that the digital album market is showing growth of 15.0% in Q2 and 17.3% for the year-to-date. BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor is quoted in the official PR surrounding the report as saying that, “We’ve had another solid quarter of digital growth in sales volumes – both in albums and on singles, where the top 10 were exclusively sold as digital downloads.” He goes on to point out that “Album unit sales are down quite significantly year-on-year, but it’s important to remember that these unit sales figures do not take into account the growing importance of music streaming and subscription services,” and that, perhaps, may point out why the album is ultimately in trouble.

The success of streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora offers a “best of both worlds” for users, giving them the chance to have the perpetual automated play of a radio station while also allowing the ability to limit/remove music that isn’t to their taste that the “manual” play of albums, or simply creating play lists/mix tapes/whatever has to offer, and all without requiring the purchase of any music. While overall digital sales may be increasing, what seems to be happening is that the music purchasing audience is fragmenting between digital and vinyl purchases, leaving a more casual audience, who’d previously been purchasing CDs, elsewhere – If subscription services offer them a cheaper, easier way to listen to the music they want without having to actually buy it, then why should they continue to purchase?

Overall music sales may be up now, but the drop in overall album sales feels like an outlier that deserves further attention. That might be the way overall sales end up going in years to come.

Computing

Think crypto’s dead? JPMorgan to offer first cryptocurrency backed by a U.S. bank

J.P. Morgan Chase is making history by rolling out a trial, over the next few months, of the first cryptocurrency, dubbed JPM Coin, which is backed by a large United States bank.
Deals

Take $250 off the HP Spectre x360 laptop with this Presidents’ Day sale

If you're hoping for something more powerful that will last more than a few months, you'll probably need to invest $1,000 or more. Unless, of course, you take advantage of the Presidents' Sale on the HP Spectre x360 13t.
Mobile

Smartwatch sales soared in 2018, with Apple leading the charge

The NPD Group, a market research organization, has reported smartwatch sales soared in 2018. Apple is leading the charge, but it's clear there's still room in the market for competitors, as Samsung and Fitbit also did well.
Mobile

OnePlus breaks into the top five among U.S. smartphone companies

We've been impressed with the value offered by OnePlus phones for years, but in 2018 the Chinese manufacturer really stepped things up. After impressive sales, OnePlus broke into the top five U.S. smartphone companies in the high-end…
Cars

All U.S. 2020 Toyotas will have a trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio

This fall, with the introduction of the 2020 model year vehicles, all Toyotas sold in the continental U.S. will include SiriusXM satellite radio installed with a three-month trial subscription of SiriusXM All Access.
Gaming

Where to catch the encore of Marshmello's Fortnite concert if you missed it

EDM star DJ Marshmello performed a different sort of concert today: one held live in-game in Fortnite. The concert was held in Pleasant Park, where the usual football field was transformed into a stage and a massive dance party broke out.
Mobile

Schubert left Symphony No. 8 unfinished. A smartphone’s A.I. just completed it

We all know computers can be used to make music, but can artificial intelligence be used to not only generate music, but complete one of the most famous unfinished symphonies of all time? Huawei has used its A.I. to find out.
Music

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.
Music

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.
Music

The best new music this week: Cass McCombs, Jessica Pratt, and more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week: New music from Cass McCombs, Jessica Pratt, LCD Soundsystem, Panda Bear, Said The Whale, and Y La Bamba.
Music

Spotify could terminate accounts of listeners using ad blockers

Bad news for those who block annoying ads on Spotify -- the company has updated its Terms of Service to explicitly ban ad blockers. Consequences for users found circumventing the rules include suspending or terminating your account.
Home Theater

Apple's new AirPods could arrive within months, pack health sensor tech

Apple may release new AirPods in the first half of 2019. A wireless charging case, health sensors, water resistance, and better Siri integration are some of the improvements rumored to be part of the new package.
Music

Donald Glover is (somehow) first rapper to win a Grammy for Song Of The Year

Donald Glover (AKA Childish Gambino) has become the first hip-hop artist to win Song Of The Year, an award that had illuded countless other popular rap artists for decades.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.