The recording industry is heading the way of movie rental stores. Still embracing a business model akin to Blockbuster’s—one that has barely changed in decades—it seems it is only a matter of time before Billboard charts and Soundscan numbers are relics of the past, as the demand for physical albums has been replaced by a digital marketplace.
2014 has provided more damning evidence of the recording industry’s peril, as it is the first year that no artist’s album has been certified as platinum. Lorde and Beyonce are the closest to reaching that coveted million-mark, yet neither has even eclipsed 800K in sales. The eulogy for the era of albums has been read, and record industry execs only have themselves to blame for failing to identify the shifts in the market toward online streaming services and instantaneous downloads.
Napster’s inception in 1999 changed the music landscape, even after Lars Ulrich and his band of RIAA lawyers threatened to sue any and everyone who used the music-sharing service. Heralded as a massive victory for the recording industry when Napster and similar downloading programs were shut down, the win would only be short-lived. The success of digital music and its online services proved that the album was moving from the boom box to the laptop.
The environment was rapidly changing, and stridently sticking to a now outdated business model, the recording industry refused to adapt. Most physical album purchases are made by record enthusiasts and audiophiles looking to expand their collections or revel in nostalgia. This failure to recognize the new frontier of music has a fixture of global culture facing extinction, as our CD racks have mainly been replaced by the likes of Spotify and iTunes.
Obstinacy has led to the elimination of many a company and corporation. The recording industry refused to recognize and integrate consumer trends into their business model, and as such, they are experiencing a steep decline, one which will inevitably render them obsolete.