Kicked while it’s down. The death of the platinum album?

The Guardian published an article earlier today which asked the question as to whether the days of going platinum are at an end.

It stated that apart from Disney’s Frozen soundtrack, no artist who released a studio album in the US this year has sold more than one million.

According to The Guardian: “In the USA, 2014’s bestselling albums so far are Frozen, Beyoncé’s self-titled LP and Lorde’s Pure Heroine. All three were released in 2013, and although all have received platinum sales certificates, most of these sales came from last year. Only Frozen has moved more than 1 million units since 1 January 2014: the others have sold “only” about 750,000 copies, well short of the target.”

Even Coldplay’s latest release falls short of it.

The website Death and Taxes went on to explain that 60 individual songs have gone platinum this year, reinforcing the idea that the album is indeed dying a death.

It would be interesting to see the list of 60 songs. What demographic is buying these? Are the songs by boybands, girlbands, or tweeny music.

People of a certain age no longer pay attention to what is going on in the charts either, so again, it would be interesting to see what the top 60 songs are, and who is buying them.

It seems that record labels are going for the sure fire hit these days: young pop singers who can be flogged to young kids and teenagers.

Remember when bands used to sign artist development deals? A distant and romantic memory at this stage. If you can’t make daytime radio, I’d imagine major labels aren’t interested, but who else has the money to pump into a band to catapult them on to major tv shows and into the top then?

Whatever about how people listen to music, it must be a nightmare for those with aspirations of recording and touring full time. Is it worth the risk spending money recording an album? For what? You’ll get thousands or millions of plays on spotify if you’re lucky, but that definitely won’t be reflected in album sales. If you go down the DIY route, who’s going to finance the tour to Canada or Germany? Will you get the time off work for it! Who’s going to pay to advertise in major newspapers and magazines who themselves may well be dying a slow death!

A label might take you on if you’ve got your image sorted, you’re young, have album quality demos, and have a strong online profile.

That’s getting away from album sales though. I reckon the 80s and 90s was the golden age for bands in terms of selling albums. Not just pop bands, but alternative and rock bands. The only way people could hear your music was on the radio or by purchasing it. Happy days.

You don’t even have to illegally download music now, you can just stream it.

The Foo Fighters are probably the next big band set to release an album, and it’ll be interesting to see how many they manage to sell. I’m sure they’ll be able to sell out stadiums anyway, and they don’t need the cash.

It’s still not certain how the music industry is adapting to how music is consumed. I don’t think anybody has the answer as to how bands and solo artists can make a living out of original music. Not on an Adele level, but on the level that 90 percent of musicians are probably on: not making a living out of original music.

Then there are bands who have to keep touring in order to make money, as they’re not selling enough albums to be able to generate any worthwhile income.

How can you adapt to mega streaming albums as opposed to mega selling albums? This is the way it’s going.

Another article in The Guardian pointed out that album sales in the UK in 1993 were 159 million. In 2013, they were 93 million.

It’ll get to a stage where new bands won’t be able to go on tour because they won’t be able to finance it, as they won’t be able to get a record deal, because they might be making music which is alternative or experimental, and hey, nobody is going to buy the album anyway, just stream it.

What do we end up with? Loads of little music scenes in cities all around the world and no way of breaking out of them? I am not sure if there are many bands who want to risk the idea of self financing a tour unless they know exactly what returns they are getting out of it. Most of them will most likely have to work day jobs, and might only be able to get time off to tour twice a year, assuming they don’t have family commitments!

You can use the argument of if “it’s good enough, it’ll be heard”. That’s all well and good if you are based in Ireland, and the youtube stats are telling you someone in San Diego is checking your music out five times a week, but who’s going to pay for your west coast tour?

It’s frightening if you think about it. What is the point in releasing an album then? Is it just so it can be streamed on spotify? I must admit I use spotify a lot as there are more albums coming out than I can afford, so I still get to listen to a lot of music, but don’t have to shell out for it. If I’m really into the band, I will buy the album though.

I’m toying with the idea of getting into vinyl….

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