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Why there’s less good music now

 

First published on http://www.startribune.com/

“This moment in music is so exciting because the creative avenues an artist can explore are limitless,” Swift wrote. “In this moment in music, stepping out of your comfort zone is rewarded, and sonic evolution is not only accepted, it is celebrated. The only real risk is being too afraid to take a risk at all.”

That’s hard to reconcile with Nielsen’s midyear U.S. music report, which showed a 15 percent year-on-year drop in album sales and a 13 percent decline in digital track sales.

This could be the 2013 story all over again, in which streaming services cannibalize their growth from digital downloads, whose numbers dropped for the first time last year, except that even including streams, album sales are down 3.3 percent so far in 2014. Streaming has grown even more than it did last year, 42 percent compared with 32 percent, but has failed to make up for a general loss of interest in music.

Consider this: In 2014 to date, Americans purchased 593.6 million digital tracks and heard 70.3 million video and audio streams for a total of 663.9 million. Last year, the total came to 731.7 million.

 

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