It’s no surprise that we’re in the middle of a transition from buying music to streaming it, but in a Billboard report last week, it was revealed just how grim music sales have gotten. In the first three quarters of the year, not a single artist album has gone platinum, or sold one million copies. Sales have been on a continuous decline since 2001, but even last year, five albums had sold over one million copies at this point in the year. And while the Frozen soundtrack has sold a solid 3.12 million copies, it didn’t come out this year. Neither did the #2 and #3 selling albums by Beyonce and Lorde, who have sold 776,000 and 754,000, respectively. You’d have to go the #4 and #5-selling albums by Eric Church and Coldplay to find this year’s top sellers, both of which have sold about 722,000 copies.
Compare and contrast that with 2000, when Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water sold over one million copies in it’s first week. That was a crazy and unfortunate time, but it goes to show how far we’ve fallen when even Beyonce hasn’t topped one million copies yet. While it doesn’t appear that any of those albums will top one million by the end of the year, new albums by Taylor Swift and Lil Wayne will have albums coming out before the end of the year, and both of them have had albums in the last few years that have sold over one million in their first week. That’s not likely to happen this time, since times have changed even since 2012, but Swift will almost definitely cross the million-sold barrier before the end of the year.
There are less singles selling, too. At this time last year, 83 singles sold over one million, as opposed to only 60 this year. It’s not surprising to hear that Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” is the biggest single of the year, selling 6.2 million copies. Buried in the story, however, is the only good news. Vinyl sales are up an amazing 47.5 percent from last year at this time. The format has sold 6.074 million units so far, as compared to 4.12 million last year. In fact, that’s more than the 6.054 million that vinyl sold all of last year.