1. Format GENERALIZATION
This concept has been all other the place lately with the explosion of streaming that made it mandatory. This has been a last minute adjustment to only one format yet. We need to go much deeper. At the time, all countries are adopting different ways of measurement, separating albums and singles or merging them together.
If we aim to create a generic scale, we need to consider the popularity of an album as the cumulative popularity of its songs. Similarly, the popularity of an artist is the cumulative popularity of its singles.
So far the industry norm is that 150 streams equal to 1 single. On countries pushing the logic up to the albums, 10 singles equal to 1 album, thus 1500 streams equal to 1 album. I see two major flaws in this approach.
No, digital sales and physical sales are not the same. As much as they have been presented as being on par, sometimes mixed together as it has been done extensively in UK, as far as singles are concerned one download doesn’t equal to one CD single / one 45 rpm. No matter the way you look at it – the price, overall market size, sales of bestsellers – it will find out that it is way easier to sell digital tracks than it was to sell physical singles in the past. One fundamental conception is the cannibalization factor – the average buyer doesn’t purchase several times the same product. The consequence is that during the physical era, since three singles were priced as much as one album, consumers were mostly going after the albums, creating only one sale. During the digital era, since the price of one song is on average 10 times less than the album, consumers tend to pick the 3-4-5 singles and let the fillers go, creating that way an overall amount of sales much higher. For this reason, the CSPC method will set the standard as 10 digital sales = 3 singles = 1 album.
Music Video Sales
Yes, let’s not forget about it. Constantly overlooked, sales of music videos (VHS / DVD) sales can’t be ignored. Not only they are extensive products, highlighting much more dedication than digital sales or streaming, they are also largely purchased by fans, being as such truly relevant of the popularity of a record. Generally released along with live albums, those two products cannibalize each other meaning it makes no sense to consider one but not the other only because the format is different. The CSPC method sets the standard as 1 music video = 1 album.
1 CSP = 1 album = 1 music video = 3 physical singles = 10 digital singles = 1500 streams