updated 11:55 am EST, Tue February 12, 2008
NBC: Apple hurting albums
Album sales have declined rapidly in recent years, and Apple bears a large responsibility, NBC claims. The TV network notes that although R&B singer Alicia Keys debuted her new album at the top of the Billboard album charts last week, this amounted to only 61,000 or so discs, nearly the lowest amount for a number-one album in Billboard history. Album sales fell 15 percent as a whole in 2007, the sixth annual decrease since 2000; artists who were once able to sell 10 to 15 million copies of an album may now be fortunate to reach 1 million.
The reason, says NBC, is that people are switching en masse to digital downloads, as evidenced by sales of 120 million iPods since 2001. More critically, people are often choosing to buy songs individually, instead of collections that may contain mediocre tracks or filler. Purchases of individual tracks are said to have grown 500 percent within the last three years.
Imagery and language in the report implicates iTunes, which is the largest source of digital music sales and frequently ties people to iPods through use of Apple's FairPlay DRM restrictions. On the iTunes Store, people can buy most tracks for 99 cents, cheaper even than would be possible with a CD single.