What's The Leading Cause Of Poor Record Sales?

carteriv sept9.jpg
Last week, the music world laughed up a hiccup as Lil Wayne pranced around the VMA stage in nut-suffocating, Le Tigre-inspired jeggings. While that performance affirmed that Wayne is no fashion guru, his chart performance a week later reminded us that he's very good at something else-selling records, tons of 'em.

His latest, Tha Carter IV, docked at No.1 on Billboard after moving a staggering 964,000 units in one week. That's more than double what Jay-Z and Kanye West posted on their joint effort and 9 times more than Diddy's last outing. It's the second-best opening week performance this year, behind Lady Gaga's 1.1 million outing. Call it the Jeggings Bump.

But Wayne's case is an oddity in a crippled industry. In fact, the feat stunned everyone - including Wayne himself - and had industry insiders wondering if Birdman bought extra copies of Carter IV to spike sales. The Cash Money honcho denied it. And frankly, it doesn't make sense to buy a million copies of your own album in this economy.

For most artists not named Weezy or Gaga, however, a million units will remain a fantasy. Record sales continue to plummet across the board, and labels are still trying to map out a way forward. If you're wondering why Wayne and Gaga seem to consistently buck the trend, while others continually struggle, let's establish that it's not because Weezy's latest is the nicest thing since white loaf.

When Rick Rubin took over the mantle of leadership at Columbia Records, someone asked him how to rejuvenate the music industry.

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His response? Make great records. But that argument doesn't hold up when you look at Billboard charts over the last five years. The two first-week champs of 2011 - Born This Way and Carter IV - rank among the most disappointing albums of the year. With a few exceptions (Kanye West, Adele), there's no correlation between quality music and big sales.

Some argue that piracy is still the biggest catalyst for spiraling sales. Drew "Dru Ha" Friedman, co-head of revered indie label Duck Down Records, recalls a time before HulkShare and Megaupload.

"Roughly a decade ago the debate took place on whether giving your music away for free on the internet or allowing illegal downloading was healthy for artists and record labels," Dru Ha tells Rocks Off. "Working through years of declining sales, I can say with confidence that illegal downloading and the legal sites that find ways to share artist's music without payment are the direct cause for sagging music sales."

Piracy, no doubt, plays a major role, but is it still the leading factor? Tha Carter IV, for instance, leaked ahead of its street date and still scanned 964,000 in a week. If piracy isn't the culprit, then what is?



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11 comments
bibulb
bibulb

Then again, some of that is what's being watched - I'd LOVE to see what the sales are for Coulton's new disc (both digital and upcoming physical), but it's not going to show up in most sales tracking systems.

ghostface
ghostface

they are albums the were classic and great that dropped this year but didnt recieve the attention it deserved.there is no balance at all.we have groups and solo artists that dont get airplay while the wack crap gets heavy rotation on the radio.they brainwashing us to like this crap and people dont realize it.people need to boycott the music industry and the radio stations until they agree to play all types of music.i havent listened to the radio for about 10 or 11 years now.comes to show you mainstreme sucks to the max....wu tang forever

lisa
lisa

WHEN YOU SPEND MILLIONS AND USE ALL YOUR CONTROLLED AREAS OF THE MEDIA TO BRAINWASH KIDS THAT LIL WAYNE IS THE BEST YOU WILL GET ...THEN YES SHIT BECOMES SUGAR!

Evan
Evan

'Born This Way' was disappointing? Already going multi-platinum with over 5 million copies sold around the world in just a few month's time. Statistic wise the only disappointing thing shown so far from the album is one single, 'Judas'. Everything else has been praised if not record breaking. 'Born This Way', 'The Edge of Glory', now 'You and I' are a popcult success. 'You and I' is the first rock song to make into the top 10 in almost how long? And alot of people are anticipating 'Marry the Night', 'Hair', or 'Scheibe' as great songs that would put Gaga yet in the top 10 of singles yet again. Is it as good as 'The Fame (Monster)'? No, but saying the album is disappointing is really stretching the biased hate towards one of the only singers left in pop that still expresses songwriting and musicianship behind the voice. And most critics/fans loved the album looking at it as a stand-a-lone peice, and not trying to compare it to every single thing in human history.

BNWW
BNWW

Seems like buyers love the heavy n-word using artists like Lil Wayne, Kanye, Jay-Z.  The intentional global marketing of this word has paid off at a heavy expense to the youth!!  Very unfortunate...

http://Educate-Empower.com

Vadubadu
Vadubadu

Sales in general are down because all the Gen Y fools are too lazy to sit and listen to a record from start to finish.

They can't even conceptualize a "Concept Album".   

Add to this the Internet, where any fool can be a one hit wonder, you have the perfect storm:Gen Y-ers, with an attention span of a gnat, and One Hit Wonders, singings the only feeble songs they are able to pay attention to.

Even the legitimate artists followed suit, focusing on the one hit wonder vs. a true old school album.

PRINT IT IN BOLD

Early Cuyler
Early Cuyler

If you want to just take a look at hip hop, when was the last time someone put out a really good album from beginning to end?  I am not talking about Jay-Z. Kanye, or wack ass Lil Wayne either.

H_e_x
H_e_x

I think the point was that despite strong sales from a few artists, the quality of music has declined. Just because something is popular does not make it good.

Early Cuyler
Early Cuyler

There are no more Low End Theories out there any more, that's for sure.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Big KRIT puts out mixtapes that are better than most artists albums.

Vadubadu
Vadubadu

See my post above why they don't.  Gen Y and One Hit Wonderism.

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