CD Sales Plummet, RIAA Gets Progressively More Emo About It

CD Sales dropped 12.8 percent last year after dropping 8.1 percent in 2005. Digital downloads didn’t pick up the slack, despite increasing 74.4%. All in all, the recording industry’s sales dropped 6.2 percent

PCWorld tossed out the “p” word: “Piracy,” but we’re going to throw out another one. A “c” word. C for crap. Crap music. Crap products. Crap policies. Crap content. Then again, maybe its just us, but when we look at what you get on a DVD or a game vs what you get on a CD, it does occur to us that this may have something to do with the slide in music sales. But then again what do we know. —MEGHANN MARCO

Digital Tunes Not Making Up for CD Slide [PC World]
(Photo: fluzo)


Edit Your Comment

  1. mikesfree says:

    If anything good came out. I might buy something.

  2. tcabeen says:

    Laugh if you want, but I do 2 things only when I want to listen to music.
    Generally, I listen to the same crap I’ve had for years. I like my taste in music (thank goodness), so my music is good for me to listen to.

    Those occasions where I decide I need something new, I go to the local chain and peruse their used discs. They cost about what I think new ones should cost (which, for used, seems like a ripoff), but it’s the best option for me. Then I rip the CDs to my computer and put the discs in storage. Literally. I live in a small house, and don’t have room for things I don’t use.

  3. tcabeen says:

    @mikesfree: I’m not saying you like anything that’s coming out, but universally, I’m REALLY sick of this argument. It’s total bull. Good things come out all the time. You just have to go find it. Just because it’s not in the top 40 doesn’t mean you can’t find it. Seriously. Stop griping about the crap quality of music when you’re really referring to the mainstream, and get a little more creative in how YOU discover new talent. Stop relying on someone else to discover it for you.

    Stop the complaining. Stop making excuses.

  4. eldergias says:

    What is the recording company’s rational for not encoding their CDs with e higher bite rate so that the music quality is higher? I simply cannot understand it. Higher quality of music means more interest by customers. The ONLY two possible explanations are cost (it costs more to do it at a higher rate, or they by special CDs that have smaller space on them so they cost less) or security for the silly DRMs. Either way, the way supply and demand works is that when demand drops off the supplier needs to modify their supply IN SOME WAY to raise more demand. It is insane to think that someone could sit on their fat butt and wonder why people stopped just giving them money. Stagnation is death in capitalism.

  5. dbeahn says:

    I remember back in the 80’s when CDs first came out – it was OUTRAGEOUS that they cost $20 when cassettes cost $9. The RIAA gave us a song and dance about paying for the new factories etc etc and PROMISED that the prices would come down over a few years.

    Here we are in 2007, 20 years later, and CDs are still $20 and cassettes are still $9.

  6. thrillhouse says:

    so suing your customers doesn’t increase sales???

  7. eldergias says:

    Excuse the grammatical errors, I’m typing fast in the middle of actually doing work.

  8. dbeahn says:

    @tcabeen: So your comment highlights the “crap policies” part – music companies don’t promote anything except the top 40 craptacular stuff, so to Joe Consumer that doesn’t have 10 hours a week to “go look” for the good stuff, it leaves the impression that nothing decent is coming out.

    Sorry, I have a life – I’m not going to expend a lot of energy to find a reason to spend money with the music industry.

    Searching on the web, on the other hand, takes little time and it’s easy to find stuff.

  9. eldergias says:

    @dbeahn: Don’t forget about inflation. Relative to when CDs first came out, they are cheaper because of inflation.

  10. B says:

    Does this mean the RIAA will light themselves on fire? Cause that would be awesome.

  11. gundark says:

    Thirllhouse, you beat me too it. How much money does the marketing guru that figured out that strategy make? I have my own strategy and that is to open a car dealership and accuse anyone that takes a test drive of grand-theft-auto.

    I dont buy music on sheer principle anymore. I have the last 50 years of music (CDs, Tapes, and records that I paid for) that I enjoy on my iPod/iTunes right now, why would I buy more from someone that is running their business like this?

  12. nffcnnr says:

    There are lots of dedicated, hard-working artists creating excellent, heartfelt music independently. They are difficult to find at your local chain cd store, but if you seek them out, you can find them. Use the Google on the internets! Most have myspace pages, and there are a multitude of blogs with album/show reviews and free samples from these artists. 95% of the stuff on major labels is drivel, and i’m glad people are getting wise and not purchasing over-priced cds of this mass-produced, over-marketed, phony crap. The good stuff’s out there. If people would stop being lazy, passive, lowest-common-denominator market targets, these independent artists will get bigger audiences, and the world will be a better place for it.

  13. dbeahn says:

    @eldergias: What the RIAA promised wasn’t that the CD would get “cheaper”, they said the prices would fall to “around what a cassette tape costs”. Hasn’t happened – there’s the same difference in the price of a tape compared to the price of a CD.

  14. rg4vr says:

    *Bumper sticker*

    Make good music, will pay!!

    Stop releasing the same crappy poppy-sounding B.S. and maybe we will buy some music.

    Suck on that RIAA!!

  15. Moosehawk says:

    Wait, why are they bitching again? The drop in sales this year went down.

    Sales are probably dropping because interweb music sales allow users to download single tracks that they like rather than the whole album. So instead of spending the $13 on an entire album, I can spend $4 and get 4 tracks off the album that I actually like.

  16. MisterE says:

    Whenever ANY sector of the Entertainment and Recording industry loses profits, the quick and easy answer is “Piracy.” I agree with Consumerist comment that today’s “entertainment” is crap. Real music comes from skilled artist who placed some thought behind their compositions. Instead, large corporations are banking on the uneducated masses that pump bass through their stereos with lyrics that make no sense, or unintelligible to those of us that have some amount of intelligence. These industries have long forgotten the art of entertainment and instead focused on lobbying politicians for their own special interest and maximizing their profit. Within a few years, CD’s will be obsolete – What will the RIAA & MPAA blame next for lost profits? Could it be that regular people are tired of the same B.S. from Hollywood? With big corporations placing more emphisizes on copy protection than product, it’s no wonder nobody wants to buy their products. Who the hell wants to buy a CD or DVD that would disable your equipment? Most normal thinking people don’t even bother anymore!

  17. shdwsclan says:

    Yeah, seriously, if anything good was out I would buy it.
    Some of the things to OWN are godfather trilogy dvd and hd, star wars sextogy[six, nothing to do with sex] on dvd hd and even origionals, sound track, movie posters, some older rock, like iron maided especially if its promo, HL/counterstrike-> gotta own those and rtcw in the aluminum box with rtcw 1 included…and then there is the CnC series, gotta have CnC 3: Kane Edition.
    Obviosly, i had to get rid of the drm on these titles by making backup and and storing the backup with the origs and makeing 2ndary backups to use.

    Just a few to name.
    But yeah, DRM doesnt mean that you can just shove trash in our face and expect us to swallow it.

  18. leftistcoast says:

    There is a great deal of good stuff out there, I agree, but you do have to hunt for it. Luckily, I have a friend in the UK who’s a huge music head who does a lot of the foot work for me on that front. One good source of new music is the BBC’s Radio One website (particularly the Zane Lowe show). And, of course, if you’re within range of a decent college radio broadcast you can usually get tuned in to some good stuff.

    Staying as far away from the Top 40 stuff as possible is generally advisable…it’s almost always crap.

  19. 44 in a Row says:

    Here’s something to think about. When they talk about “sales”, are they talking about universal sales of discs across all labels… or are they just talking about RIAA labels? Because if it’s the latter (and I have to think it is, as it’s the RIAA reporting these numbers), I can absolutely understand RIAA sales being down; not only is there the “crap” factor, but lots of high-quality, very popular artists artists are on or moving to independent labels, including quite a few with mainstream recognition. When you’ve got artists like Bright Eyes and The Arcade Fire on non-RIAA labels, with albums that are breaking the Billboard Top 10, I have to think that that’s affecting the numbers. For all we know, CD sales are up, but they’re not the kind of sales where the RIAA gets a cut.

  20. MentalDisconnect says:

    I don’t see the quality of music as a problem- if I did some searching, I could come up with some good music. It’s not hard- I listen on the radio and if I hear a song I like, I’ll go get it online. (yes, I pay for my music, silly me). I actually don’t mind paying for music, as long as it’s not outrageous. Back in the day of just CDs, I would pay $15 for a CD only to find out I liked only 2 songs. Yes, yes, I know, my fault, but how did I know before I bought it? Some stores had things where you scanned it in and you could sample it…

    No, what really bugs me is lack of flexibility. It’s that DRM thing again. iTunes has limited music selection and the aac format prevents me from doing anything with it, like using it as a soundtrack for my videos. That’s why I’m not buying music- I haven’t turned to piracy, but I’m not providing them profit, either.

    I believe the average consumer wants to act ethically, and if they believe so many people are turning to music piracy, they really ought to be asking themselves why..

  21. Scazza says:

    Also gotta look at the fact alot of people buy CDs for 1-2 songs, now with downloads, those people will buy just 1-2 songs from the album instead..

  22. Lars says:

    1. I think that the ~75% increase in online sales indicate that the single is coming back. Singles don’t cost as much as albums so I guess that sinks sales numbers a bit.

    2. Good music is produced. I don’t think you have to go too far to find it. I generally trust Pitchfork for new recommendations. Also if a friend recommends something I’m likely to pick it up as well. But I agree that not all music is good. But music tastes are highly subjective, so while many on this list don’t like the Pop crap that is produced, some market segment might appreciate it. Big labels often have sub-labels that produce good stuff too. So I wouldn’t say that the major labels are strictly craptoriums. There’s plenty of good music out there for everybodies tastes.

    3. Naturally CD sales are going to slump when you can buy video games, DVDs, listen to podcasts (or watch them) or commercial free satellite radio. A consumers dollar only goes so far. When you think of things that we pay for that we didn’t say 10 years ago (high speed interent for example), something has to give. Other industries are having similar problems, like the magazine business for instance.

    4. Piracy also plays a role in this, but I do believe the RIAA oversells the importance of piracy. Their draconian responses to piracy have certainly turned off a lot of music fans as well. Of course, I may underestimate it. For me, there’s still something nice about picking up a tangible object like a CD. And some artists produce packaging and bonus features that make picking up the physical album really worth your money.

  23. hop says:

    i like classical music and opera….i have all i want already….also i have my old big band and early rock and roll that i grew up with in the 50’s….gonna put them on cd’s myself….anyway , i’ve got most all of the music i’m gonna need or want……..

  24. tcabeen says:

    @dbeahn: Bah. It takes 10 hours a week to find decent music?? No way. Here are a couple of pointers to help you and others with your search:

    1) Amazon, iTunes, and other sites offer previews AND recommendations. Go plug in a few things you like, add them to your wishlist or whatever (even if you already have it!) and see what they recommend.

    2) Music blogs! Subscribe to 2 of them in your favorite newsreader. Let me help:

    3) I haven’t tried it yet, but I hear Pandora really is amazing.

    4) Friends (if you have any – I don’t mean to presume) or even complete strangers. You’d be surprised how many people are eager to talk about music they love, and share it with others. See headphones on the bus/elevator/sidewalk/mall and ask. “Whatcha listening to?”

    Life doesn’t have to be hard.
    Neither does finding good music.
    Sometimes you draw a lemon, sure. I heard the Sergio Mendez album was AMAZING, so I got it. Then I found out Will I Am (black eyed peas) produced and appeared on most of the tracks. Bloody hell.

  25. VeryFancyBunny says:

    @nffcnnr: Agreed! I’ve found out about all of my favorite “new” bands through music blogs, websites, forums, etc. I can almost always sample some of their songs for free, and then buy the album directly from the (non-RIAA-affiliated) label, or from the band itself. Occasionally I buy from Amazon, or from my local independently-run music store, where I can say to the clerk, “Hey, I like Band X. What else ya got?” and they kindly recommend New Band Y.

    I’ve actually spent MORE on music in the last few years than I did in the past, but only a tiny percentage of that has gone to RIAA labels.

    Folks, if you’re already blog readers, take the time to seek out some music blogs and add them to your feedreader. It’s a great way to escape the RIAA and get excited about music again.

  26. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s mind boggling how the big five music labels are SO set on destroying the means for music fans to discover new bands (from standing mutely by as Clear Channel destroyed radio, to suing P2P sites, to suing their best customers, to suing legions of innocent people, launching a jihad against non-commercial radio, and now, to destroying net-based radio thru draconian playing fees). Then they turn around and blame piracy.

    It’s their myopia, lack of talent and simple greed. Due to their stupidity, it’s nearly impossible for guys/gals off the street to sample before buying.

    Ha Ha Ha Ha. Let the incompetent bast*rds starve, get fired then die.

  27. dbeahn says:

    @tcabeen: Thanks for the tips! I bet I’m not the only one here that will get good use from them…

  28. mfergel says:

    I buy all my cd’s on sale or used. I refuse to pay $15-$20 for a CD. Movies cost most to produce than music yet I can buy a DVD for less than I can most music CD’s……that’s cr@p.

  29. loreshdw says:

    Everyone keeps saying that you can find good music if you search for it. The problem is percentages, not availability. If 5% of easily available music is good or 50% of harder-to-find music is good, that still means that 95% of easy stuff is crap. And half of the rarer stuff is crap. You can argue that the same numbers applied before DRM, but it still means that I rarely find something worth buying for the price charged. I have the choice to buy a book, a movie, a pc/video game, or a music CD. There are more choices competing for less money in my budget, sometimes I would even choose getting good Thai takeout over a CD I like.

  30. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @trai_dep: For real Whoever said you can find good new music on the radio…hahahaha. I can’t stand comercial radio. if it isn’t the same 10 songs played over and over its the idiot DJ’s. I can count on one hand how many new artists I have found on the radio. I get better luck having bands contact me on myspace..

    Almost all the comercial music today is pure fluff and needs to be erased before it is ever sold. Too many people are sheep that just buy whatever the record companies/radio stations play. I love hard rock and metal so I usually spend several hours a week looking for new music.

    I prefer to buy the cd because I want to support the artist so they can continue to make new music and I like to have a physical cd/liner notes.

  31. enm4r says:

    I think what the RIAA means is that sales are down XX% to major record labels. To which case, no one really cares, and we’ve heard it all before.

    Until they start allowing consumers to buy and own their own music, I won’t pay for it. I don’t buy any less CDs than I did 5 years ago, but where I’m buying them from has changed. Once they accept that the days of a handcuffed industry (from the major label point of view) are over, the sooner they can focus on the customer. But that wont be anytime soon.

  32. tcabeen says:

    @dbeahn: Mucho gusto.

    I’ve got one more: Coworkers. Not everyone can get away with it, but I bring my laptop to work and copy music from MP3 players and CDs to peruse.

    Not that I’m encouraging piracy or anything. It’s just a good way to find new things. Then go buy them. Used. ;)

  33. kenposan says:

    I buy about one CD a year, tops. I just can’t find the music I like out there. And there is the whole “I hate the RIAA and don’t want to support them” thing.

    I am sure piracy is impacting them, it has to. But not to the extent they claim. Mainstream music is geared toward prepubescent listeners. It is written and produced by writers and engineers who know how to get crap out fast. What the labels forget is that the market is bigger than just prepubescent kids with disposable income.

    I remember when John Mellencamp released a album a few years ago. He stated that he would never get air time. Why? Because young people didn’t listen to his kind of music so the label wouldn’t push it and the radio wouldn’t play it.

  34. MonkeyMonk says:

    I haven’t been able to mentally make the switch to downloads yet but I buy virtually all my CDs used now. $6-$8 a disc is my sweet spot and the industry just isn’t hitting doing it. I feel bad that my favorite bands aren’t seeing any $$$ but neither is the RIAA so it all evens out.

  35. @tcabeen: When it comes to sales dropping it’s a completely legitimate complaint. It’s not up to the consumer to figure out how to give a company their money. If the music labels want people to buy their music they should be promoting music people like not music they want us to like.

  36. straddy says:

    Music blogs really do afford the best way to find and get new music. Most times they offer a couple of good tracks of the album they’re talking about, and you’re set. That way you can preview and then think about buying the album. You’d be surprised at how many artists and record labels support this. I know, because I have one.
    I buy CDs when the artist produces an album that is worthy of buying, either all of almost all of the tracks and great. Thats why you should buy an album anyway. I also support the music industry by going to concerts.
    Fact is, we like what we like and we’ll get what we like. The RIAA is probably feeling a hit from iTunes and such…they’ll have to get over it. We’re in a computer age now, why buy a material thing that wastes paper and plastic when you can have it on your computer in a portable fashion?
    Also, I don’t know that the RIAA takes into consideration the power of music on the internet. It is SO much easier now to share music, ie, check this out, its awesome, which then leads to a SALE.
    If we didn’t tell everyone what we like and where to get it, where would the RIAA really be?
    And, ahem, they make millions of dollars a year. RIAA, shut up. Don’t bitch at us when we make a few thousand a year and we don’t want to pay 20 bucks for a CD that has 5 good tracks.

  37. mopar_man says:

    Indie artist: yes there are plenty of those out there. Those ones you have to look for.

    RIAA artists (which is what this is about): lots of crap. This is why I haven’t bought an album by an RIAA artist in YEARS. Find some talent and stop pissing people off and maybe your sales will go up. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

  38. flyover says:

    Pandora is a great way to find similar artists you might like. Pollstar does it for concerts – those groups are pretty mainstream as well & would be easy to find in a store.

    I think will suggest music based on taste as well.

    Those of you who like your taste/have decades old music/think it’s all crap/ etc should try one or all of these methods to check out a new band or two. Takes little time, no money, is user friendly and you may end up finding something you like MORE than what you’re currently listening to.

    Just because I’ve been eating the same food for 27 years doesn’t mean I don’t try new food, which includes sometimes searching it out….

  39. bluwapadoo says:


    Agreed. Plus, what is my incentive to find it? I like the music I listen to now. Perhaps I am “missing out” but it’s not worth it to me. I’m sure there are a lot of independent movies that are good that I will never see. I could spend the time to find it but in the end, it’s not that worth it. I’ll just watch Wayne’s World again.

    Even if I find good music, the chances that I buy a CD of it are slim to none. It seems like a chicken and the egg problem. How do I know it is good until I find it on the internet and listen to it and if I am doing that then why do I need to buy the cd? If you think I am going to read some blog and they say “check out X” and I buy X’s cd without listening to it, then you are out of your mind. At least people who buy movies have probably seen it at least once first.

    CD’s need to be around $5 new. Then we can start the discussion.

  40. etinterrapax says:

    I haven’t cared for much that’s been out lately either, and I bristle at the notion that I should have to work all that hard to find something I like. I never used to. Maybe I liked crap, but it was crap that came to me; I didn’t have to search for it. And I don’t think I’m all that different from most of the music-buying public. In fact, given the rate at which sales are dropping, I suspect I’m exactly like most of the music-buying public. If it isn’t the quality of the music, it’s a promotional issue. Most people aren’t going to go looking for good music because they never had to. It’s optional, and for a long time, it’s also been free and very accessible to people. No one had to subscribe to radio, suffer with the loss of independent radio stations, check into a noisy, smoky club, or spend even more time online. Let’s face it: this isn’t about the quality of what makes the top 40. It’s about moving merchandise. They’ve done a piss-poor job of marketing, misunderstood their consumers, then sued them, failed to keep up with technology, and have been more interested in increasing profits beyond the capacity of their product and their markets. Poor business decisions got us here, not just lousy music. People will buy lousy music if it’s marketed well. History has proven it time and again.

  41. Prince of Zemunda says:

    Lars you make a great point. Music is just a form of entertainment. With more forms of entertainment available then there was in the 90’s of course music will take a hit. What business expects to maintain high numbers for decade after decade when there is competition? These crap stats are used so they can go lobby to congress for stricter laws and get ISP’s to open up to them.

    The RIAA will shoot itself in the foot if it gets rid of a lot of internet radio sites. Pandora is how I find out about different artist. If that goes away I have to go and troll blogs? Why does finding quality have to be difficult. Aren’t they supposed to make it easier for the consumer…wait I forgot who I was talking about.

  42. tcabeen says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: “It’s not up to the consumer to figure out how to give a company their money.”

    This seems to be a fundamental point, yeah? And I just can’t agree with that, so all the other angles of the argument are moot. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree. Peacefully, I hope? :)

    I think it’s absolutely the consumer’s responsibility to figure out how to give a company their money, which products to give it for, and which retailer or wholesailer (or otherwise) to give it Through.

    If the radio tells me the new A-Kon disc is “awesome”, I’m not going to go buy it. I’m going to find a way to listen to it (with this artist, it’s difficult to avoid, so that’s easy) and make my own decision. I think, actually, that I would prefer some lyrically brilliant rock music. The onus is on me to discover The Tragically Hip myself. Fortunately, I have a friend in Canada who was all to happy to help out with that one.

  43. tcabeen says:

    @flyover: AllMusic! I forgot about them!

    Ok, one more idea for anyone interested. Go look up your favorite bands from yesteryear learn 2 things:
    1. What the members are currently doing. You may love their new project, even though it’s not getting radio play. That guy you used to love, with the amazing voice, well he’s been working with that guitarist from another band you so loved, as well as 2 other people you’ve never heard of. They just released an album last month, but you haven’t heard of it yet!

    and 2. Who cites them as “influences”. There’s this great band that just came out of Boston (or wherever) and your favorite band ever is THEIR favorite band ever. Go find ’em!

    Ok, seriously, I need to get back to work… :)

  44. NoxiousCleric says:

    Baby Boomers strike again! Born from 1946 to 1964, we have driven trends all our lives, from baby foods and disposable diapers through massive school-building projects and the success of rock-n-roll and (shudder) disco, to the stock market, insurance policies, credit cards, hospitals and, ultimately, nursing homes, funeral homes and cemeteries.

    Music companies are committing suicide by ignoring the Baby Boomers and concentrating on the young. Adding device-damaging DRM, suing music lovers, and screwing over promising acts in favor of known moneymakers just make things worse.

    As for piracy concerns, the music companies should embrace technological advances instead of resisting them. Authors such as Cory Doctorow are demonstrating how free online books are actually helping them to sell more of the three-dimensional kind. Music companies — and reluctant publishers — could make a lot of money if they’d just pull their heads out of … the sand.

  45. MentalDisconnect says:

    If you are talking about my comment on finding music on the radio, let me explain I’m not a Top 40 type. There are a few decent popular songs, but I can occasionally hear a good, new song on the radio. I’ll usually hear it once and spend a lot of time trying to track it down using the tiny bit of information I gathered from the dj, who apparently can’t be fussed to say the song title or artist, or if they do say it, so I can understand it. The djs do talk way too much and most of the music is repeats to the point where a song I didn’t mind I now hate. Other than that, though, an excellent source of music! You’ll just have to listen for two hours to hear a good song, which you’ll never hear again…

  46. 44 in a Row says:

    I’ve found satellite radio to be a pretty decent source of new music. Listening to XMU, the indie station on XM, has let to probably a couple dozen CD purchases in the past year, all from non-RIAA labels.

  47. arelys521 says:

    @loreshdw: I think the term “search” is a little strong when it comes to finding new music. Granted here in Minneapolis we’re a little spoiled, we have a public radio station, The Current, that is just plain awesome.

    But! Everyone can hear it! Go to… and click on “Listen.” Then just sit back, relax, and discover some new stuff.

  48. Hackoff says:

    Too bad people are too wrapped up in their own lives these days to really put up a big fight against the RIAA.

    I think everyone who has been sued by RIAA (Blindly) should file a counter suit for harassment. The RIAA would be spending so much money trying to defend itself from thousands of suits that it might not have time and enough lawyers to keep suing their customers!

  49. up2late says:

    Puh-leeze – the RIAA has been jerking over not only consumers, but artists as well for years – it’s a well-known fact that most bands making their money off touring and merch sales, not album sales. Due to the way they structure their business, where they sign a band and “loan” them the money for production, marketing and distribution costs, a band can sell a million CD’s and still end up owing the record company money. It’s one of the sleaziest businesses out their, and now that there are alternatives and more cash is slipping out of their pudgy, greasy hands – it’s “Boo hoo hoo…who can we sue?” The hell with ’em.

    In addition to self-produced indies and indie lables, more and more bands are giving their music away – for free. Download our stuff and if you like it, see us when we come to town – or buy the CD directly from our website. Yeah, I’m sure the RIAA counts those CD sales. They keep engaging in lousy business practices and lobby for anti-consumer friendly legislation for a business model that there really isn’t a need for any longer, unless you *really dig* Ashlee Simpson.

    No wonder people are en masse saying, “take a hike.”

  50. up2late says:

    And “YEAH” to what arelys521 said about The Current (I’m in Mpls also).

    And of course, the RIAA is pushing legislation to kill off internet radio. They just wanna keep their stranglehold by whatever means they can.

  51. tcabeen says:

    @arelys521: Good call! Also WOXY.

    The internet-only incarnation of the station has won multiple times at the Plug Independent Music Awards.

    * 2005 Internet radio station of the year
    * 2007 Internet radio station of the year
    * 2007 Podcast of the Year: Lounge Acts

  52. rugger_can says:

    The “freeware” model of indie labels is really neat in my opinion. Giving music away and saying “hey if you like this and want us to make more shoot us a few bucks.” Is a nice way to promote yourself.

    Kinda gives you faith that we aren’t all bad after all. I mean where along the line did the cult of money come along and dictate that to be truly a successful artist you had to be rich. Who cares what your music is, he who has the most toys wins? Doesn’t make sense to me.

  53. @tcabeen: I think you misunderstood me. I didn’t mean that the consumer should just do what commercials tell them to.

    By, “It’s not up to the consumer to figure out how to give a company their money” I meant that consumers aren’t obligated to buy music: if the labels haven’t promoted anything they want to buy they aren’t going to go, “Gee, I still need to figure out a way to give Company X $20 of my money.”

    That’s what I meant by “there’s nothing good out” is a legitimate compliant when it comes to sales. People don’t want to work hard to give someone their money. If they don’t hear music they like they won’t buy any at all.

  54. mac-phisto says:

    i’d like to give a little shout out to lou brutus on fungus53…keeping me content with round-the-clock commercial-free punk bliss.

    & to those two idiots on alternative press – if you don’t get off my punk station i’m coming to cleveland to give you a curby.

  55. vanilla-fro says:

    regarding the price of CD’s: How is it that local/unsigned/indie bands can sell their CD’s at shows for $10 and still make money? My friends’ band does this and their CD’s are just as good quality as any other band’s.

  56. KatieKate93 says:

    For those who feel there is no good new music: Get out of the house and go see a show. The last 10 or so CD’s I’ve gotten have been by bands I had never heard prior to seeing them play with another band I liked.

    Maybe this is particularly true of hardcore and metal shows (which I go to at least two to three times a month) because they tend to feature multiple bands of similar genres and don’t cost a fortune, but I can’t see how it would hurt to try if you like other styles.

  57. eightfifteen says:

    The research regarding CD sales does not provide the complete picture. Record companies over the past several years have been putting out fewer CD’s, opting instead to release fewer CD’s that were more likely to produce profits.

    I remember reading last year (can’t remember where) that although sales dropped 8.1%, the number of releases dropped in the neighborhood of 12%, and sales dropped a mere 4%. Doesn’t that mean that for 12% fewer releases, the record companies actually increased revenue by about 4%?

  58. Spiny Norman says:

    Isn’t it almost ironic that the RIAA posts these miserable numbers just one day after the Sound Exchange crowed about strangling one of the emerging tools for making music listenable again. When they’ve finished killing off Pandora and LastFM where people actually discover new things and Sirius merges with XM to cut the number of satellite stations in half, the RIAA will appear again next quarter to report a further decline in sales.

  59. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @KatieKate93: Yeah I have found a lot of good music with the opening/non-headlining bands at the shows I go to. Most bands pull similar acts to go with them.

  60. up2late says:


    A band can charge $10 for their CD at a show because the cost of production is low, even professional printing, cd-labelling etc. Even in low qty’s of 100-250 units, a professional CD-duplication place can do a CD that’ll look every bit as good your average major-label CD at approx a buck. So that’s a $9 profit for the band (which I don’t mind paying because it supports the artists directly). So if a band plays a show and they sell 50 CD’s, that’s an extra $450 they get on top of their performance fee (often nothing if they are just starting out).

    Now compare that to the poor-widdle-itty-bitty major labels who churn out thousands to millions of CD’s (at a production cost of probably 10-25 cents) and have to charge a while 15 dollars for their CD’s.

    It just isn’t fair, poor guys. I’d be emo too.

  61. mikedt says:

    I think the drop in sales year after year just reflects the unlimited number of entertainment items people can spend their money on.

    At one time, as a teenager/college student, you bought music. Now you can pick from music – cd’s and individual tracks, video games and dvds. In college I spent a lot of time (probably too much). Now I’m guessing the average male college student wastes time playing video games.

    And as for Piracy, I taped a TON of albums when I was in college. That didn’t stop me from still buying a TON of albums during and after college.

  62. consumerist11211 says:

    Not to defend the music industry or the RIAA but before comparing CDs to DVDs and video games, you need to understand you are not comparing apples to apples.

    The film industry makes money 5 different ways off a film. First is box office, typically most film companies make their money back or close to it off box office alone. In New York, if you go to a film you pay $11 for a ticket. There are many bands that you actually pay $11 for the CD. Then you move on to Pay Per View, another revenue stream, Cable rights: revenue stream 3, rentals: revenue stream 4, and then finally DVD sales. DVDs are NOT a valid comparison.

    Same for video games, you are looking at $40 plus for a video game, no comparison to the $10 to $12 many CDs are selling for in todays market. When CDs sell for $40 then compare them to video games.

    The model is indeed broken but comparisons to these other industries are not valid.

  63. John Stracke says:


    What is the recording company’s rational for not encoding their CDs with e higher bite rate so that the music quality is higher?

    It’s been tried. Look up HDCD, Super Audio CD, and DVD Audio. HDCD is backwards-compatible with CD, so that standard CD players can play it; Super Audio CD and DVD Audio are not (physically, they’re DVDs), although some SACDs contain a CD-compatible layer.

    HDCD didn’t really go anywhere, in part because it sounds like snake oil; SACD and DVD Audio are in a format war, and probably impaired by the fact that both of them have DRM.

    And, of course, there’s the fact that most people can’t hear the difference—people who are happy with MP3 aren’t going to pay for better-than-CD quality.

  64. alicetheowl says:

    @KatieKate93: I’ve yet to see a local show that’s less than $30/ticket. Who spends $60 on a night out for two but can’t afford to risk that $15 on a CD they may or may not like?

    Personally, I rely on Pandora and Amazon for exposure to music I may or may not like, and that works just fine. Anything requiring more effort, and I wouldn’t bother. I have plenty of things to waste my paltry income on, thanks.

  65. flyover says:

    most local shows here are $5-15 and I live in one of the most expensive cities in the country.

    Other GREAT radio station – KCRW in LA – LOVE Becomes Eclectic.
    also Michigan State Univesity student station – for alternative/college and Eastern Michigan University station – for jazz, blues, world. Both available online for free.

  66. tricknick says:

    I go to shows to see bands I love and want to support all of the time. I also buy music put out by Indie Labels and most RIAA labels.

    The fact is most of the music put out by the RIAA labels is complete crap. If anyone can show me a tune I’d like that the RIAA put out in the past year, I’d be all ears.

    Besides all that…hasn’t anyone heard of a boycott? The RIAA collectively make up some of the crappiest companies in the world. If people aren’t buying their shit, maybe its because they suck ass.

  67. AcidReign says:

    …..Frankly, from listening to my kids’ Wii and XBox 360s that are on most hours of the day, the most talented musicians are making video game soundtracks. I figure that’s a sweet gig, recording during the day, getting a check, and sleeping at home at night.

    …..A lot of the issue of “sound quality” isn’t the format, really. It has to do with poor production values in the studio. I think record execs demand the most bland, uninteresting mix possible. First, record it dry as hell. Put triggers on the drummer’s kit, and use house samples on the track. No individual player nuances allowed! Out of tune guitars aren’t fixed or re-recorded, no working on mike placement, no accounting for room acoustics, no fine tuning the eq for each singer, just compress the whole thing to hell and back, and run the BBE sonic maximizer over the top of it. Get in, get out, in as few hours as possible.

    …..It’s nice to be able to hear stuff on XM, or the music blogs, and realize that the CD is probably a waste. Back when I was a kid, you bought it for one song on the radio, and were stuck with the rest. It’s a liberating era, to be sure!

  68. a_m_m_b says:

    @ NoxiousCleric: see also Baen Free Library with a variety of authors & books for free. Ties to their WebScription EBook site with good prices on good books.

    Also has good articles on the Free library on copyright, technology, etc. under Prime Palaver.

  69. phrygian says:

    My husband and I used to spend >$100/week on new music. We have walls of records and CDs. Over the past few years though, we’ve stopping buying music. And it’s only partly because our priorities changed (e.g. mortgage).

    Most of the music stores around here have gone out of business. The only places to buy CDs are bigbox retailers like Target, Walmart, Best Buy — and they typically don’t stock the artists we enjoy.

    I suppose I _could_ buy all my CDs online from Amazon and indie labels, but I like the tactile experience of music shopping. I like pulling an album out of the bin and looking it over.

    Instead, every few months, we head across town to a little indie record store where the owner is a musichead and always has something new and interesting to share. Unfortunately, it’s a chore to get over there. So, we’re buying a lot less music than ever.

  70. cindel says:

    The first time I brought an America CDs was on Tuesday for $10 and that’s NIN. That’s quality music that I don’t mind paying for other than that, I’ll stick to my Kpop fix.

  71. Trick says:

    Good music or bad music (these days most of it is bad) I refuse to by any CD. I don’t pirate anything either.

    I use XM and the radio… I have a large CD collection and it has not grown for some time now and I doubt it will grow anymore.

    The RIAA can DIAF. I will *never* buy a CD as long as they are around with their current policies.

    Are you reading this, RIAA? This is *WHY* your sales are are down. You suck. The current music talent sucks.

    Keep holding your breath, you are slowly sinking for good!

  72. Bay State Darren says:

    Are telegraph sales down, too? CD’s are obsolete!

  73. SeattleGuy says:

    For some time there hasn’t been a lot of music I really want to spend my hard earned money on. If my personal purchase history were what the RIAA was keeping track of they would have been out of business a couple of years ago. The last music I purchased through traditional means was Sting – Brand New Day. I’m afraid that the music industry is choking on that bile that is the RIAA.

    I’m spending some money at garage sales occasionally and I’m hanging out at Amie Street listening to a lot of Indie Rock.

    That’s the link for it. Enjoy.

  74. The new Jason Falkner CD, currently only available in Japan and on, is absolutely stunning. So go out and buy that. If we all did, then, um, Jason would make some money and it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference. But we should, anyway.

    And I’ll have to second the Amie Street recommendation. Because, you know, shamelessly, if you click on this link, you can buy my music. Which you should. Because it’s good — and totally DRM free!

  75. TechnoDestructo says:


    They lost me with the peer-to-peer lawsuits. Because that’s how I was finding new music.

  76. fonz32 says:

    I would say piracy might have something to do with the sales decline, but I doubt much. If album sales are in decline, how do the sales numbers rate from the numbers in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, today? Just a curiosity…because as I see it, the ‘mainstream’ music that is forced upon us is crap. I grew up in the 80’s — I can recall the ‘Top 40’ stations playing music from all genres. Today, ‘Top 40’ is about 95% hip-hop, cRap, and bubble gum pop geared to teens. Sure, teens will spend their money on cd’s, but why when you can buy a single or two instead? Most of the junk out there nowadays are going to only make the list of future 1-hit wonders!

    Besides the record companies generally pushing the ‘bad’ stuff, we no longer can watch the videos on MTV and go buy the music we see (when is the last time MTV actually played a video?) We can find good music to our tastes, but it does take some effort, even if minimal.

    And to the comments on Pandora — it is awesome! I’ve found a lot of ‘new’ music I didn’t know before!

  77. FLConsumer says:

    @eldergias: “What is the recording company’s rational for not encoding their CDs with e higher bite rate so that the music quality is higher? I simply cannot understand it. Higher quality of music means more interest by customers.”

    Because Americans don’t care about quality. The current crowd is satisfied with listening to 128Kbps MP3s with piss-poor encoding over a free set of earbud headphones which came with their iPod. One other issue is that the CD spec only allows 44.1KHz audio. The other higher-quality formats have their own glitches (DRM/format pissing war).

    Popular music today definitely is not of the calibre we’ve seen in decades past. Today’s popular music is much like every other product we buy today — disposable. I can’t get into to many details, but having recently followed and investigated the business dealings of a very popular music producer who was responsible for many popular top-chart acts, it’s expensive to find and market good artists. Even with the popular crap, you’d be surprised how shitty the demo reels are. For every 1 star, there’s probably 20-100 failures for the producer & record company.

    For what it’s worth, I normally buy 20-100 CDs/year. Guaranteed none of them will show up on any of the music charts. Most of them probably aren’t available in the big box stores, many of them won’t even be found at traditional music stores. How did I discover these artists? By downloading “illegal” MP3s! I’m NOT satisfied with 128kbps MP3s, so even if I get a whole album via BitTorrent/Limewire (rarely)/BitLord/eMule, if I find it interesting, I’ll go out and get the CD…which brings me to another point — Why do I have to import so many of these CDs?!? These CDs should be here already. It’d be a great savings to the music industry to promote artists which they already have in their collection.

    Pandora/etc help, but even they don’t have many of the artists I listen to.

    My taste in music is quite broad, with just about every genre represented except for (C)rap, twangy & modern country, and the “Beautiful Music” format, which is anything but beautiful or music.

    My love is for classical, opera, and jazz. And I’ve found a great source for it — the local Uni. I offer to record the students’ recitals for a nominal fee and then I get to record it any way I please. 24 channels of uncompressed 96KHz 24-bit bliss, for me to master any way I please. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s also highly rewarding to be able to see the concert live, capture it, master it, and to have been part of the process. It also gives me the ability to make sure a recording is exactly the way I like it. Clean, crisp audio where the performance hall is part of the recording. Occasionally even the sounds outside the performance hall become part of the recording, which only adds to the “being there” feeling.

    Last 3 CDs purchased:
    Cowboy Junkies – Trinity Sessions. Awesome accoustic album. Recorded with a single 4-element Ambisonic mic… MUST be heard on a good stereo to truly appreciate it. Your home theater/stereo you bought from Circuit City/Best Buy need not apply here.

    Solomon Burke – Nashville . Normally not my type of music, but the acoustics of the album (recorded in some guy’s living room) are excellent and the music itself is good.

    Solomon Burke – Don’t Give Up On Me. Absolutely shitty acoustics and recording techniques on this album which is an absolute shame, if not crime. Track #10 (None of us are Free) has The Blind Boys of Alabama singing backup, but it sounds like they threw a couple of wet towels over the backup vocal mics on this and other tracks of the recording. Also a few times where they clipped out a track or two on the multitrack. Good music overall.

    Next 3 CDs considering:
    Amy Winehouse – Back to Black. Take a good jazz/blues club singer and add a Motown flair.

    Richard Cheese – Aperitif for Destruction – Lounge versions of your favourite music.

    Richard Cheese – The Sunny Side of the Moon . More Lounge versions of popular songs.

    I said I had wide & varied taste of music. :)

  78. ZonzoMaster says:

    For the people who haven’t tried Pandora:

    I listen to it when i get bored of the same stuff, the main problem i have is that i do bump into crap, and im a hard guy to convince of new music, but it helps, it really does. Just be pacient.

  79. kalmakazee says:

    What the hell happened to REAL Country Music? The late 80’s and 90’s decade for Country Music was the best. Today’s Country Music all sounds like Pop and Rock. If Music Industry wants to produce Country Pop and Country Rock why can’t they have a separate Station Called Country Rock or Country Pop. I love Country Music Stop trying to focus on just bringing in new Country fans and Focus on trying to keep true Country fans to stay Country fans.

    Also the 80’s was the best decade for Pop and Rock Music. Todays Music Sucks!! There is truly no talent on the radio nowadays.

    I love all kinds of music but (C)Rap and heavy Metal.

    My favorite Music is Country Music.

    I also love Reggae, R&B, Polka Music, Irish Music, Pop and Rock and anything out of the ordinary.

    The radio stations play the same garbage all day long.

    Put some normal music on the radio Please.

  80. FLConsumer says:

    Kalmakazee: Try taking a listen to the Solomon Burke Nashville album, it might be up your alley. It lacks twang, which is the only reason it made a home in my collection, but it’s definitely country.

    If you really like polka & reggae (and soca), give WMNF-FM a listen ( on Sundays from 2pm-7pm. Polka from 2pm-4pm, complete with the listing of events happening at the German & Polish clubs of the Tampa Bay area and from 4pm-7pm it’s all reggae & soca. No commercials. For Irish, I’ve found myself gravitating towards’s first stream (traditional), ‘though they could use a larger playlist.

    I do have a certain fondness for some polka music. Some of it’s purely bad, but other bits of it are fun. FWIW, I’ll be playing polka music with 20,000 watts of pure acoustic power this weekend, ‘though I don’t think the visiting team will be as enthusiastic about it as I am. :)

  81. tcabeen says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: That totally makes sense. My mistake. I totally agree. If you don’t have a good product or can’t properly market it, few people will be throwing money your way.

    @John Stracke: It’s silly. HDCDs and SACDs are the same “bitrate” as regular CDs. They just have a couple more channels for surround sound. I’m not going to get into the argument about the quality of audio to be found on CDs, because it’s been SO thoroughlly overdone already. There are some out there who think CDs are crap quality. Fine. But they’re inarguably in the minority, and that minority is so small that it can’t possibly be the REASON that sales are down. eldergias‘s comment is totally unrelated to the post.

    He could point out that Vinyl album sales are up, though. That small minority who have trouble with CDs absolutely love their LPs, and they’re voting with their dollars.

    In other news, I totally followed my own advice last night and spent the entire evening listening to WOXY. Man, it’s been TOO long. There’s some great stuff out there.

  82. tcabeen says:

    @kalmakazee: For Irish, I love The Thistle & Shamrock on NPR. If your local station doesn’t play it, you can find another station on Shoutcast or some other online radio stations.

    In fact, check NPR programs for all that stuff. And then move on to the BBC. A LOT of stations broadcast online, with more and more joining all the time. You can find great things.

    Myself, I love the drum & bass show on BBC’s radio one. Man, I would love to have something like that in the US. Or I’d at least love to have a way to record the stream so I can listen to it at work. mmmmm.

  83. El_Fez says:

    Hey – I did *MY* part. I bought a box set of three Donna Summer CDs and a Best Of Lipps Inc. Of course these are 30 year old disco artists and not The Hip New Thing, so the RIAA probably doesn’t care about them. But hey, if new music didnt completly suck, I might consider getting some!

  84. glitterpig says:

    I couldn’t tell from either the WaPo article or this one – is this that RIAA-member music sales are down, or are *all* music sales down? How do they measure this?

    I can’t even think of the last time I bought something from one of the big 4, but I buy a couple of CDs a month. (I kind of wanted that new Modest Mouse CD, but not badly enough to trust Sony with my computer.)

    These days, I find new music through Myspace or labels of bands I already like. And my music purchases are only limited by my budget, not by inability to find things I like. (And I’m pretty picky.)

  85. handyrae says:

    I haven’t bought a new CD in years and have no intention of doing so anytime in the near future. When I find a CD I’d like to own, I go to Amazon and put it on my wish list. Fortunately, I’m a patient person and can wait until there are enough used copies of the CD to bring the price down. That’s when I buy it. I like to think I’m saving money and sticking it to the RIAA all at the same time.

  86. cagcon says:

    I would never buy music as its just not worth the money. I used to when I was a teenager but now I just buy games as you get your moneys worth. The music just doesn’t interest me anymore. I live in UK and we are subjected to the tripe of Lilly Allen and Sandi Thom -Fake trash aimed at people who buy music in supermarkets. And yet they blame piracy? Who in their right minds would even steal this garbage! It is my view that these cocaine addled fat cats have milked this industry to death and have been lucky to get away with it for this long- I’m not paying for the cocaine habits of record industry types.
    Music should be made for the love of music and released digitally for free it should not be a business market anyway.Its just sounds! In UK they have always overcharged until people have been milked dry- It wasn’t long ago that a typical album cost between £12 and £15. Now that’s what I call piracy!

  87. reykjavik says:

    @dbeahn: Then that means that prices have come down because of inflation. 20 dollars 20 years ago was worth a lot more than 20 dollars today. If you keep the price the same over the years then essentially the price has dropped.

  88. deltasleep says:

    The increasing diversity of music purchasing methods, places, and formats makes any data about the market less accurate every year.
    I know a lot of good musicians who are selling records independently to friends and at shows, and nearly making a living off of it.
    There will always be a big market for good music, this is just an indication that the RIAA is no longer producing a product that anyone wants- they should start thinking about making CDs that have more extra physical content- stickers, coupons, good booklets, DVDs, that sort of thing.
    Actually they should just jump off a cliff.