The effect of digital music stores on album sales

Previewing music has usually been a good way of creating interest for a record. An ad in a popular magazine or a small billboard is useful but nothing beats hearing a new record played by a dj or in store before you buy.

Traditionally, the single acted as a commercial for the album. With this kind of approach, it’s easier to see why labels were willing to pay Hype Williams $1 million to make a video or pay Irv Gotti $150’000 to produce a track. An impressive video and record in rotation would lead people towards the single and in turn buy the album. Wishful thinking of course.

However, digital music stores enabled labels to sell album cuts independently. Before this idea came around, you couldn’t (and still can’t) walk into a store and purchase select songs. Only records available are singles and albums.

Instead of letting the market dictate the price of a record, the big coprorations such as Apple, Amazon, Universal, Warner et al tried to price fix and self regulate. When the RRP of a single dropped with albums staying around the same price, albums were no longer value for money in comparison.

For example, in 2003 50 Cent released Get Rich Or Die Tryin, with 4 big singles priced from $3.50 to $4. Now, lets say I liked all 4 of the singles. I could either have bought them for a total of $13.50 to $16 OR just purchased the album with 16+ tracks for roughly the same price 1st week.

Fast forward to 2008. Flo Rida releases Mail On Sunday, an album with 3 huge singles. Now, I could either buy these 3 singles for less than $3 dollars and my favorite cuts from the album for a few more dollars or pay $14 for a product I don’t particularly want.

It affects album sales because fans can pick & choose their favorite tracks instead of buying the album. The advantage of digital music is that it caters to a tech savvy generation, who spend more time on the internet than ever. With E-commerce being a 24/7 service, fans can have their music on demand, or in other words – impulse buying.

So in 2010/2011, we have the return of the E.P (particularly in hip hop). The E.P has made it’s way back into stores because the format for an E.P only allows it to be a specific length, meaning less songs than an album. Buying 8 songs might be more expensive than buying  the E.P as a whole, so common sense prevails and drives up E.P sales.


About Harlem World

the BAWSE *ross grunt*

Posted on July 8, 2011, in Economics, History, Music Industry, Record Labels, Trends and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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