Its been a while since we published a music industry update — and the details are pretty ugly.
First up, the touring situation:
SUMMERTIME BLUES: It’s the worst of times for the summer touring business. Apart from standing rock fests like Bonnaroo, Sasquatch and Lollapalooza (see story), along with package tours like Warped and Taste of Chaos, all of which offer multiple acts for reasonable prices, the business is in terrible shape. Stadium dates and entire shed tours are being canceled, while promoters and agents pressure managers to take reduced fees, cancel dates and give back deposits.
Ironically, the situation this year is uglier than it was last summer, when economic conditions were at their worst, and some are attributing the numerous disasters to overexposure, as certain acts attempt to move high-priced tickets in markets they’ve hit frequently in recent years, including radio shows. (6/10a)
Album sales are even worse:
Bad times just got worse. For the week ending May 30, the U.S. music industry sold a total of 4,984,000 albums, according to Nielsen Soundscan. This figure, which includes new and catalog releases, represents the fewest number of albums sold in one week since Soundscan began compiling this data in 1994.
A friend in the industry adds:
Digital is already approaching 40% of sales. The problem is the rate of growth is slowing (digital download sales growth could be negative this year). And of course as CD sales continue tanking, digital sales are a larger percentage of the total.
There is no answer for owners or creators of recorded music except an ISP level fee imposed from above. Subscription services are losing users – why subscribe when everything you want is available for free on YouTube? And mobile isn’t the answer either. As people migrate to smartphones and 3G and now 4G services, they’ll have You Tube connectivity anywhere so no need to subscribe.
I have a Spotify subscription, which is pretty cool. And I might pay for it if it were available here (though it does need some tweaking), but I’m not sure most people would cough it up. Most people care about the hits, and those are ubiquitously available for free.
But I’m a broken record . . .
Thanks for the update, Gene!