2006/2012 – A CONTINUOUS GROWTH IN SALES
The inflection point
A mere 3 years after its introduction, in 2006, downloads already boosted annual US units to their all-time peak. Standards on the likes iTunes was a $1 price for a song and $10 for an album. This felt just wrong as a single was now 4 times cheaper than in the past while the album was still just as expensive. It decreased a lot the interest of the latter. Most big albums still only have 4 singles, cherry-picking them for $4 was much more logical instead of buying them plus 4 or 5 other fillers for $10. As a result, and as shown inside the graphic above, while sales kept increasing, revenues kept going down.
Thus, the entire industry was awaiting for the inflection point, when digital sales revenue increases will top physical sales revenue drops. In 2010, we though that point was reached. Industry executives considered the crisis was soon going to be something from the past. Figures really looked that way from 2010 to 2013. In fact, worldwide overall revenue decreased a mere 2% in 3 years from $14,9 billion to $14,6 billion.
A world of specialization
During that period, we attended to the tsunami named Adele. The most striking fact in this success wasn’t its size as several albums from the past did just as well or better. Instead, it was how unique such a success was in the last 10 years. Since the 60s, almost each year had its pack of blockbusters, but that trend suddenly stopped in mid-00s. This absence of blockbusters wasn’t that much due to the overall decrease in sales. The main reason is how much fragmented the market got.
In each country, local industries have been developed and local artists are often favored by consumers. Tastes became more fragmented too. Additionally, the digital world and the ever-increasing number of specialized radios and TV channels enables fans of all genres to focus solely on their favorite sounds. This is why the 2005-2010 period saw many albums reach incredible sales here and there but not globally. There has been Nickelback in the US, Amy Winehouse in the UK, P!nk in Australia, etc. Globally though, none reached that A-league status in all markets worldwide, none until Adele‘s 21.