Breaking Records: 100 Years of Hits

Breaking Records: 100 Years of Hits

Breaking Records: 100 Years of Hits

Breaking Records: 100 Years of Hits

Synopsis

New technologies are rapidly changing the way music is recorded, sold, and enjoyed. Although these challenges appear to be unprecedented, Breaking Records offers a look back at the last 100 years that reveals that the recording industry has always initially feared--but eventually profited from--rapid shifts in the way music is recorded, distributed, and performed.

Excerpt

In the early years of the twenty-first century, the American record business considered itself to be in big trouble. For the year 2000, sales of albums increased 4 percent, from just under 754 million copies in 1999 to just over 785 million, but due to the precipitous decline in the sales of singles (which the major record labels were trying to eliminate), total sales of albums and singles combined actually declined slightly. In 2001 album sales were down 2.85 percent, the first drop since 1991, and total sales were down 5.25 percent. And in 2002 album sales fell another 10.7 percent, with combined sales down 12.7 percent. Significantly, sales of CDs were down 8.8 percent, the first time the format had seen a decline since it was introduced in the United States in 1983. This pattern continued through the first quarter of 2003, with album sales down 10 percent and total sales down 10.9 percent.

At the Billboard Music & Money Symposium, sponsored by music industry trade journal Billboard and held at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City on March 6, 2003, Michael Nathanson, European media analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., “voiced a view that the current music industry downturn is structural rather than cyclical, and he was pessimistic about the progress made thus far to develop a workable new business model, according to an article published on the front page of Billboard' s March 22 issue.” Others at the symposium felt that the downturn was cyclical, but all agreed that the industry had problems.

And what were those problems? From the industry viewpoint, they were, as usual, all due to external forces. The rise of the Internet in the 1990s had made it possible for music fans to easily download and trade copyrighted music among themselves without ever visiting record stores. The industry had taken aim at Napster, one of the main Internet companies facilitating these efforts, and brought it to grief, but there were many more services developing all the time. It also was possible,

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.