If that's the case, where are those buyers at? They're certainly not buying product these days, as the sales are less than 50% of what they were in 2000. NPD also claims that there are 20 million fewer music buyers than there were as recently as 2006. Where'd they go?
I think it's the result of 2 things:
1) There are fewer and fewer places where you can actually buy music from a retail brick and mortar store these days. Sales would be a lot better if CDs were easier to find. The industry is losing the impulse buy, which is the thing that music stores were always good for. You'd go in to buy a certain CD and leave with 2 more. These days, even if you find a store that carries CDs, the choice is so limited that it virtually eliminates the impulse sale. Which brings us to:
2) The music just isn't as compelling as it used to be. The many years of neglected artist development finally caught up with the industry. You can't change the industry culture so drastically and not have it hurt. Here are the factors leading to the abyss that the industry faces (in no particular order):
- Thanks to MTV, the industry regarded music secondary and signed artists for their image instead of talent.
- The corporate culture of the majors caused them to be shortsighted in that quarterly profits became more important than long term artists development. If your first album tanks, you're history. When music was at its peak, an act might get 3, 4 or even 5 albums to develop their audience.
- The record labels lost a huge portion of the audience when they milked the rap and hip-hop trend dry, leaving millions of record buyers out in the cold with nothing that appealed to them for so long, they became former consumers. Now they buy games, watch TV and play on the computer but they don't buy music.
The major labels will never get religion. It's too late. The industry has changed for all concerned; artists, record labels, retailers and consumers. Now we need someone to pick up the pieces to either bring those buyers back, or development some new ones.