Andrew Ducker (andrewducker) wrote,
Andrew Ducker
andrewducker

I know where the album sales went.

You weren't listening to the albums anyway.

Well, ok, some of you were. I mean, some of those albums were good all the way through. And sometimes it was easier to just slide the shiny disc into the slot and press play, without having to tell your CD player which tracks you wanted to hear.

But once you got away from those shiny discs, and started listening to the music as files, pure data cut adrift from any physical context, it suddenly became much easier to make that brief decision, once, to never listen to the filler again.

You might start off with an album, ripped from its substrate and converted into MP3s (or AACs or FLAC, depending on your technology, or how bat-like your ears seem to you), but listen to it a few times and the ones that started to grate are trivial to delete. A couple of clicks and you never have to hear them again.

Sometimes the work of removing the fluff was forced on you - if your music player didn't have space for your whole collection then you'd have to pick and choose what you copied over. And in that case, why _would_ you bring the tracks that just didn't work for you.

Once you start taking control it feels odd not to be in control of your listening experience. Making compilations for friends, for loved ones, was always a bonding experience. Now it's easy to do the same for yourself on the fly. Click a few times and put together the perfect soundtrack for whatever you're up to next. Or just cut loose and shuffle your entire collection, algorithms surprising you with bursts of long-forgotten music, dredged from your history, moments of childhood taking you by surprise, memories brought back by connections that haven't been triggered in an age.

So would you buy whole albums from bands you didn't love? You've heard a few tracks on the radio, maybe streamed the album to work out what was gold and what was straw, and now you're making the effort to pay for the music when frankly you didn't have to. Why pay for the dross?

And _that_ is why single sales are up by 3million in the last year, while album sales are down by the same amount*. Because when you stopped buying the physical albums** you mostly didn't transfer over to buying a digital version of the same thing. You realised that you didn't need to be ripped off any more, and just bought the tracks you liked***.



* http://www.bpi.co.uk/press-area/news-amp3b-press-release/article/solid-digital-albums-growth-in-q2-2012.aspx
**Of course, the big peak of CD sales came from people converting all of their vinyl to CDs. And that's now long gone.
*** That's those of you who bought an album at all. Personally, I'm paying £120/year for unlimited music, and I'm fine with that.



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