U.S. album sales continued a steep decline at the mid-year point with an 11% fall to 204.6 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Country sales are off considerably more than that. The music business sales experts are saying that this dip is due to gas prices hard economic times. Of course they would say that. They are doctors of spin.
The sales drop is not a big surprise with the way things have been going. Retailers are carrying less and less CD product, labels are just crawling out from under the CD rock into a digital world, business models are in flux, and there is a wide array of experimentation going on to find quick results. The problem is that there are no quick fixes to this. It requires innovation and creative planning for the years ahead.
It’s like being dug in the fox hole and hoping not to get taken out. At some point you have to plan the attack and move forward or your losses become so heavy you can’t advance. Game over.
Suddenly I have a vision of Band of Brothers in my head. Did you ever see that masterpiece television series? It is my all time favorite.
In one scene the U.S. troops were dug in at the Battle of the Bulge near Bastogne. They were taking a fierce beating trying to hold the line. It was a critical point. They either hold the line and allow for an advance or they retreat or surrender and the entire war takes a turn for the worse. Fortunately for us all the troops endured and had the resolve to hold their position in Bastogne and move forward and attack all along the Western front.
I’m not equating WWII with the current battles the music business faces. That would be monumentally stupid. I’m only comparing the strategies and boldness necessary to be successful.
The industry is taking a beating and we must get out of the fox holes. We can’t look back. Even though things look bad, there is opportunity through innovation, strategy, and resolve. And keeping the music first and foremost.
But is anyone leading?