Sales were down in September by 20.4% and October by 19.4%, making a dismal year a deeper, darker hole than even the most pessimistic prognosticator imagined.
Is this all due to the economy? Is it the music? Is it that a new generation of buyers prefers digital? Probably all three. But CDs are still being bought (and even desired instead of digital by some audiences), they're just a lot harder to find as some areas of the country are no longer even serviced by an old fashioned brick and mortar store.
And with consumers now hip to the fact that they can just buy the songs they like and not pay for what they consider filler, record labels now have to invent a new strategy if they hope to keep the sales from slipping ever deeper into the abyss.
Here are some concepts that touch on everything but distribution (more on that in another post).
1) Take more chances on the music. Better music = more sales. Go back to developing artists the old fashioned way and let them find their audience and their audience find them. It takes time but it's worth it. Besides it's better to build an audience then be a one-hit-wonder. Just because an act doesn't have a single or doesn't look good on TV doesn't mean their music might not touch a group of people.
2) Market hard to the fan. A true fan wants everything from the artist and they want it now. Talk to them. Reach out the them. And let them reach out to you. Listen to them!
3) More releases. In this day and age, there's no reason to wait a year or more between releases. You finish a song, you put it out right away, you keep your audience fresh and stay in touch with them. When you have enough songs, then put them together on a formal release.
These are just a few broad concepts that should be easy to implement, but it takes some forward thinking by the labels to realize this is a new age that requires a new way of doing business.