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Have you ever wondered why your mum has that massive stack of vinyls and old CDs in the garage? The old Brandy and Mary J Blige tapes? Well, music wasn’t always a click away, back then Apple music would’ve practically been witchcraft. Before the Internet rocked the world, the only way you could really hear your favorite artists was by taking a trip to your local HMV and buying their album or getting lucky enough to hear it at a club or on the radio. From an artist’s perspective, a number of units you sold were everything. The more album sales you had, the more money you made. Your album sales defined your success and played a big role in your overall revenue. Now because of streaming services, album sales don’t really mean anything towards an artist’s success, whether they be digital or physical. Look at Tyga for example, his latest album The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty sold just “2,200” copies in its first week. “2,200” copies is pretty terrible if we’re being honest, especially when you have artists like Kendrick Lamar selling over “600 000” copies. However, according to Tyga himself all that’s okay, such a small figure doesn’t hurt his wallet, albeit hurting his ego and reputation a bit. Why? Simply because the album “got millions of streams”. In the 21st Century, it’s still possible to be successful without selling hundreds of thousands of copies of your album. Some don’t even need an album to make money, shown by the success of artists who rose to fame through means of platforms like Soundcloud, like Russ for example.
New streaming sites are popping up all over the Internet, however, there are really only three that are at the front of the pack, the giants of the streaming world: Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music, sites with a well of music deeper than any record store you could go to. Which is probably why billboard.com states that “CD sales are down 19.2 percent year after year”. Why would you want to go out and buy a CD when you can get any album you want at the click of a button?
Why are these streaming sites so popular you may be asking? Streaming sites come with perks you can’t help but just fall in love with, they have playlists combining your favorite songs already made by the staff or by other users, often including new songs that you’ve never heard before. Discovering new music through playlists on streaming sites is very easy and can be very rewarding. Also, statistic.com tells us that the average price for a physical album is “8.10 British pounds”, whereas a streaming site like Apple music is £10 a month, so for only two pounds more you can get an endless supply of music rather than having to choose very carefully and get 1 album a month. Streaming sites are also better for the artists, through streaming they actually make more money than they would if their album was sold at a record store, going back to billboard.com we find out that “the more money that goes into these services by virtue of your subscription dollars, the more is paid to creators”.
Does this mean the end of album sales is coming? Or is it already here? We’ll have to wait and see, but “with more and more consumers transition from purchasing music to streaming tunes” the future continues to look bleak for album sales.