RollingStone.com, Jenny Eliscu noted the painful downward trend in music sales for 2003 in a new article entitled
Music Business in Misery
. In fact, the iTunes Music Store may be the one bright spot in an otherwise dreary market.
Eliscu called the RIAA’s decision to go after illegal music file-swappers with individual lawsuits “not just a bad PR move, it was a signal that the music business is more desperate than ever.” The industry has only seen three artists sell more than 2 million copies from January to June — 50 Cent, Norah Jones and Linkin Park.
In the same time frame, 600 record stores shut their doors and 1,300 people lost their jobs in the recording industry. Wherehouse Entertainment filed for bankruptcy; Musicland shut down 107 stores; FYE owner Trans World Entertainment Corp plans to close 25 stores, and Tower Records is on the chopping block.
Despite protestations from artists like Metallica who feel that single sales
“contribute to the demise of the album format,”
some CD single sales are moving briskly — American Idol’s Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken have managed to move more than 1 million units of their singles in five weeks, according to the report.
“The recent success of Apple’s iTunes Music Store may be the best news the industry has had lately,” said Eliscu, who noted that iTunes has some more than 5 million songs since its launch, selling into less than 4 percent of the computer market. (According to Apple CFO Fred Anderson, the number of songs sold through iTunes Music Store is closer to 6.5 million now.)
A source at Warner Bros. is quoted as saying that Apple’s iTunes Music Store shows “a real business potential for selling downloads,” and said that the service’s success to date has been more important symbolically than financially.