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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

US Teens Listening To Music More But Buying It Less

In a new survey from the entertainment industry market research firm NPD Group, US teens are listening to more music but buying it less. In the study, teens aged 13 to 17 acquired 19 percent less music in 2008 than they did in 2007. CD purchasing declined 26 percent and paid digital downloads fell 13 percent compared with the prior year.

What was really scary for the music industry was that 32 percent of teens purchasing less digital music expressed discontent with the music that was available for purchase, while 23 percent claimed to already have a suitable collection of digital music. Twenty-four percent of teens also cited cutbacks in entertainment spending as a reason for buying fewer downloads.

Even tracks downloaded from peer-to-peer (P2P) networks fell 6 percent in 2008, while the number of teens borrowing music, either to rip to a computer or burn to a CD, fell by 28 percent.

This means that the music industry is in real trouble and it goes way beyond the change of format from CD to digital online media. It proves what a lot of people have been saying for so long - the music today is just not that compelling. If your prime target demographic isn't interested, it means that the entire business model is bankrupt.

But we knew this already and many posts here have pointed it out. When the club scene died after the drinking and driving laws of the early 80's were passed, the training ground where artists could get their music together was lost. We lost the "farm team," so to speak.

When the major labels were acquired by conglomerates, music became beholden to the bottom line of quarterly returns instead of artist development.

When MTV became the rage, the emphasis of the major labels turned to artist image over artistic substance.

When the focus groups of Madison Avenue became more important in picking music than the ear of the fan, the fans began to tune out.

I can go on and on, but the bottom line is that we're losing a generation of potential music fans, and that threatens an already weakened and bloody industry with decimation.

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