Tuesday, February 20, 2007

That's Entertainment!

Well, you guys know how I feel about the way box office revenues are viewed, which continue unabated and incorrect, and seriously, are there any sane voices of dissent on this topic? Product rules the box office: always has, always will. You want answers to why one week is colossally bigger than the same week in a previous year? It's that easy. Good product. You rarely ever see a good product go unsold at movie theatres.

However, one entertainment industry cannot claim product as their end-all factor. The music biz is the latest to suffer truckloads of negative press concerning their album sales. It's always been there, but now it's starting to overshadow all the other entertainment industry woes. What the hell is happening to album sales? Even the big guns can't seem to unleash a million-seller on their opening week. High School: The Musical was the top-selling album of 2006. Bigwigs are getting fired.

And while occasionally someone thinks correctly that iPods and MP3 players and all of its ilk are responsible for the steep decline, there doesn't seem to be enough of it. There are far more people interested in just looking at the mess and shrugging their shoulders. I've seen small articles in Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly just making mention of the slide, but not offering any reasons.

Here is where product doesn't matter. There are a million ways to hear your favorite song nowadays. Previously, if you wanted to own it, you had to buy the album or tape it off the radio hoping that the DJ wasn't pimping his station's call letters over the beginning of it. Or, you could buy the single, but that freaking cost at least half of what it would take to buy the whole album. Album sales are down because you can download practically any song you want, and yet, albums still cost the same as they did before the digital age.

And let's face it, most albums aren't full of great songs, either. This is the single age, where you try to find 2 or 3 hits and then fill the rest with garbage in order to make it seem like you sweated over the album for months in order to get 10 songs on it, justifying that $14.99 price or whatever. But even if you make an album with 12 kickass classics, no one wants to venture the cost to see if that's the case. The music industry is an overcrowded market, and the lack of demand for albums should reduce the price, at least this is what I'm supposed to believe from Economics 101. This is why Tower Records went out of business--more than anyone, they jacked up the stickers for albums, likely to pay for their usually extravagant rental space.

Albums probably should be around 7 or 8 bucks right now (maybe less). Of course, maybe the concept of "album" is slowly dying. You don't hear about new technologies involving music software anymore, the CD has been king for 15 years or so, and nothing seems to be around the corner to supplant it other than the digital music players, which conveniently eliminate the need for software. If any industry needs to just go ahead and embrace the digital age as inevitable, it's the music industry.


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