Posted by: Jon Fine on January 9, 2008
Last summer, Glenn at coolfer.com called my attention to a very interesting music-biz stat: In 2007, country album sales were in steep decline. And they were. Around the time we talked, country’s album sales were down almost 30%.
So, you’re thinking, whatever, music sales have been falling for years, no big deal, right?
Of all the top-selling music genres, country was the only one to hold its ground, sales-wise, over the past few years. There were lots of reasons people gave for country’s commercial persistence—a commercial (if not aesthetic renaissance); the way country as a radio format has resisted splintering, unlike rock; the way that digital sales of country music were a much smaller fraction of total sales than there were for other genres; the perceived loyalty of country fans to longtime artists.
2007 year was still kinda-young when I wrote this column about country's woes—which is to say that a big fourth quarter could have saved the year. But the implications were nonetheless kinda-grim . . .
. . . and the year-end music sales figures released last week by Nielsen SoundScan were almost as discouraging. Full-year country album sales were down 16.3%, and every measured genre took a sales tumble.
The full list (with the caveat that I’m just reporting the genre names, not inventing them):
Alternative: down 19.2%
Christian/Gospel: down 14.3%
Classical: down 7.2%
Country: down 16.3%
Jazz: down 10.6%
Latin: down 15.6% (another genre that had done well recently)
Metal: down 13.9%
New Age: down 5.9%
R&B: down 18.3%
Rap: down 30.0%
Rock: down 12.5%
Soundtracks: down 9.5%
Shouldn’t be a surprise that the music biz continues to tank. But one genre that’s long been something of a firewall is now clearly eroding, too.