Young Fans Buy Singles, Album Sales Fall
Consumer trends explain why Lil Wayne’s ‘Rebirth’ flopped on Billboard, but flourished on the Ultimate Chart.
In 1999 the total revenue of music sales peaked at $13.4 billion; ten years later, album sales dropped to less than half that amount. It is no secret that the music industry has changed as consumer preferences have shifted and alternative revenue streams have presented themselves. While Billboard’s top 200 album chart has long been the go-to source to gauge an artist’s success, it is slowly becoming obsolete.
“The music industry has trained people to focus on the album chart for 20 years,” head of music for CMT, Jay Frank, told the New York Times. However, BigChampagne, which measures the success of media, introduced a new kind of system called the Ultimate Chart. It ranks an artist’s position in the industry based on album sales, single sales, online streaming, and other streams of revenue.
With this system, Lil Wayne, who’s Rebirth album stands at No. 89 on the Billboard charts, ranks No. 4 on the Ultimate Chart. Although the two systems differ in this case, they also may look similar at times. For example, Eminem stands at No. 1 on both charts.
Older music consumers tend to buy albums rather than singles, which can partly explain why Susan Boyle’s debut album, I Dreamed a Dream, became the highest selling of 2009. Younger fans lean largely towards buying singles, which is why artists like Taio Cruz and Rihanna struggle on Billboard’s album chart, but still maintain popularity.
“The reliance on album sales is very 20th century,” said Cliff Chenfeld, owner of an independent New York label. Even though times have changed, claiming the No. 1 album position is still coveted.
“We still fight for the No. 1 spot,” said Lee Stimmel, executive at Epic Records. “It’s still a very important tag to have on record.”
Excerpt from HipHopDx.com