First published on http://www.takepart.com/
It’s no coincidence that album sales peaked, at $14.9 billion, in 1999—the year Napster ushered in the digital era of music by effectively making all recorded music free to anyone with an Internet connection. By 2009 album sales had fallen by more than half, to $6.3 billion. For a while, digital music sales, chiefly through iTunes, made up some of the difference. But after half a decade of consistent growth, downloads of individual tracks declined for the first time in 2013, by 5.7 percent, and by 13 percent in the first six months of this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Streaming music over the Internet via services like Spotify, Rdio, and Pandora, by contrast, is up 42 percent between the first half of 2013 and the first half of this year.