Here’s an interesting little factoid you may not have noticed: In 2003, the number of artist albums sold in the UK in 2003 rose more than 7% to almost 121 million.
The UK music industry magazine “Music Week” shows artist albums – and that excludes compilation albums – sold 120,968,891 in 2003.
That total is a rise of 7.6% from the previous year, according to the BBC.
Which raises a question: Why are CD sales in the UK doing so well, while the U.S. music industry has seen continual erosion of music sales since the late 90s?
Here are the 3 key differences between the U.S. and U.K. music industries:
• Radio concentration: The UK does not have the same degree of ownership concentration that is in the U.S. There is no dominant player like ClearChannel Communications in Great Britain;
•Stronger Economy: The U.K. did not suffer the same degree of post bubble effects as did the U.S. Indeed, the British Pound is up dramatically against the U.S. Dollar. They simply did not have nearly as severe a downturn. Hence, their consumers did not cut back on purchases the way we did in the States;
• More Creative Musical Environment: Call it a lack of “insipid boy bands.” The British have always had a terrficially vibrant musical scene: From Beatlemania to the British Invasion to the Clash and the punk sound, the British Isles have produced as vastly disproportionate amount of great music relative to their size and population. And, with a much lower ownership concentration of radio stations, which must compete with an extensive public broadcasting system (the Beeb), there is a rich and diverse set of offerings over the public airwaves;
The bottom line is that the U.S. music market is suffering from infrastruture issues which are negatively impacting record sales. Some of it is broader macro economic factors; Parts are legislatively based — allowing ever increasing concentration of radio station ownership reduces the amount of music which gets heard by the CD buying population.
Some if it is just those goddamned insipid boy bands . . .
Albums have a record year in 2003
By Stephen Dowling
BBC News, Wednesday, 14 January, 2004, 13:06 GMT