Album Sales Hit Historic Low, Falling Below Four Million Total Units Sold

Wiz Khalifa Visits Miami Radio Station

Wiz Khalifa – Photo: Larry Marano/Getty Images


Additionally, the digital side of the industry is struggling as streaming sites chip away at sales, Rolling Stone reported


The record industry has just had its worst week in decades. For the first time since Nielsen SoundScan began keeping track in 1991, album sales failed to reach the four-million-sold mark this week, totaling just 3.97 million. The week’s top seller, Wiz Khalifa’s Blacc Hollywood contributed just over 90,000, but after that, the Top 10 featured three other debuting albums that averaged only 31,000 each, Billboard reports. It’s worth noting, though, that this week’s numbers do not include the post-VMA sales bump for many artists. Those will be tallied on next week’s charts.Falling below the four million mark was inevitable, as sales totaling more than five million records sold have been a rarity so far in 2014. In fact, one of this summer’s biggest sellers was a soundtrack featuring previously available Seventies hits (Guardians of the Galaxy) that sold at the same pace as a Now! compilation. If not for that soundtrack’s surprise success, album sales may have dipped below four million weeks ago. By comparison, during this same week in 2014, album sales totaled 4.88 million.
The music industry has struggled in recent years as consumers have shifted from physical CDs to MP3s, but even the digital side has been hit hard in 2014: Digital album sales are down 11.7 percent for the year, and à la carte downloads are down another 12.8 percent according to Billboard. Illegal downloading has no doubt eroded much of those digital sales, but it’s the emergence of legal streaming sites like Spotify and Pandora that has also chipped away at overall sales. Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” had 544,000 digital sales this week partly because the track isn’t available on Spotify, forcing fans to download the song (or watch it on YouTube, where it has already accrued 46 million views).
While the music industry has struggled to capture even five million units sold per week in 2014, things look slightly more optimistic in the months to come thanks to new releases from bona fide album movers like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Lil Wayne, Foo Fighters and Pink Floyd. Those albums, and Adele’s eventual LP, will help resuscitate things. However, if current trends continue, 2015 promises to be an even gloomier year sales wise for the music companies.
Maybe yes, maybe not.

Singing the blues for the music scene


Musician Matt Phillips hold up a picture of his “wrap sheet” after a gig. Tom Maxwell

For young and ambitious musicians, there is strength in numbers

Does The Marvin Gaye Estate Have A Blurred Vision of Copyright Ownership?


American Songwriter:  Andy Lykens

The interesting thing about copyright infringement is that it escalates. In reality, a case should be pretty cut and dry, and you should be able to tick off a number of boxes in a checklist to determine whether something constitutes infringement or not.

But because of what infringement implies, there is so much more that goes into a legal battle involving intellectual property. Lots of people are afraid of it these days but usually not for something like this – a plain ol’ case of “you stole my music.”

In case you’re unfamiliar, Marvin Gaye’s estate is currently suing Robin Thicke, claiming he borrowed a bit too heavily from Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” in his gigantic hit, “Blurred Lines.”

What makes this case interesting is from an outsider’s perspective you can tell there is just a lot of bad blood between MG’s estate and Robin Thicke’s troop. It started earlier this summer when Thicke preemptively sued the Marvin Gaye estate to try and secure indefinite protection from further legal hassles with the upset family members.

Now, after having gone back and forth in the press a lot this summer, Gaye’s estate has decided to come out swingin’ (and not like Sinatra).

Gaye’s family’s big argument will be centered around an interview with GQ where Thicke happened to mention Marvin Gaye in the same sentence while describing his writing process.


They also had a musicologist compare the two works and he has stated that “Blurred Lines” blurred the line between ‘evoking an era’ and ‘stealing.’

But what exactly can you copyright?  Let’s take a look and maybe we can figure out if this is just a case of people getting a little too grumpy, or if there is a justifiable reason to believe Robin robbed Mr. Gaye.

What Is Actually Protected?

A song is a complete musical work – chords, lyrics (if there are any), melodies and titles all tied up with a pretty bow on top.

Copyright infringement usually takes place when you outright mimic a combination of those elements.

You can’t copyright a title on its own, a general sound, drum beats or chord changes. However, you can obviously not create an instrumental version of a song with words and claim it’s a new work.

What is similar about the two songs?

For me, the commonalties are the cowbell, and the fact that there’s a bass groove. I think if you listen at only the groove elements of each track, you can definitely hear similarities. Robin also doesn’t help his case by singing in falsetto for the first part of the first verse (although, the verse does sound completely different to me).

The lyrics are obviously different and the melody isn’t even close. In fact, after the first few seconds of each song the parity quickly fades.

But at the beginning, I can see where there may be some confusion.

Because it’s all subjective and like pretty much everything else, one expert can make a statement only to be outdone later by a different expert, or at least one who’s willing to make bold claims based on big paychecks, this may very well go to court.

And again, Thicke having mentioned that he wanted to mimic Gaye’s style in a national magazine is not great for his case.

Of course there’s selective memory.  “I do not recall saying that.”

So who’s right? 

That may be up for a judge to decide.

Marvin Gaye’s camp would of course have you believe that him saying he based his song on an MG groove and “let’s do something like that” is infringement.

But Marvin Gaye isn’t the first one to pair a funky bass line with a cowbell (and let’s all pray he’s not the last). Of course, Robin Thicke wouldn’t be the first one to have to payout for having a groove too similar to an existing work.

So is it inspiration, or infringement?

Let us know in the comments after you give the two songs a listen – we’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Pains of Being in a Band After Age 30

Radical Dads jammin on some 'za down at the Y

Radical Dads jammin on some ‘za down at the Y

“You don’t really start a band in your 30s,” Radical Dads’ Robbie Guertin says. “Well, you do, but the motivations are different.” Guertin knows what he’s talking about. A veteran of mid ’00s powerhouse Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, he’s recently started focusing on his other project, Radical Dads. Guering and his bandmates Lindsay Baker and Chris Diken are all in their mid-30s, all married, all facing down life changes like children, home ownership, and big career moves. Somehow, they all find time to practice and play in one of Brooklyn’s most exciting rock bands. Why exactly is it worth all the trouble?

It’s Friday night, and Guertin is throwing together a little dinner at his rent-stabilized Williamsburg apartment. “Sorry, but I forgot to eat earlier,” he says, standing above a sizzling pan of chard, rice, and onions. “We found this new farmer’s market and got a bunch of food, but totally forgot that we’re going out of town this weekend. Do you want anything?”

NPR is playing in the background, his wife’s old marathon bib from Wisconsin is pinned to the fridge with a magnet, and his old artist lanyards from his time in Clap are stuck to the kitchen cabinets; it’s a textbook scene of early 30s bliss. Guertin was in that band–one of the first indie buzzbands, one of the first to release their record by themselves over the internet, and one of the first to generally point the way to today’s fractured music business landscape–from virtually the beginning until last year, when he quit. Now, he’s waiting for his wife to finish her PhD in Sociology before they probably-but-not-definitely move out of the city for her to start her career as a professor.

Clap released its self-titled first record when Guertin was 26, in 2005. They were a phenomenon, playing television, touring the world, selling their album on their own. David Bowie was reportedly a fan. Yet Guertin still looks back and wonders if they could have done more, become more successful. “It’s never really been about money,” he says. “It’s just fun to advance, to make more people psyched about it.” When you start out at the top, though, it’s hard to advance. According to Soundscan estimates, the band’s second record sold close to a third of as many copies as their debut. Their eventual follow-up, 2011’s Hysterical, did even worse. Some of that had to do with the bottom falling out of the industry, but that didn’t make the numbers go down any easier.

All the while, Guertin, Diken, and Baker were working on Radical Dads. “I was having more and more fun doing this than I was in Clap Your Hands,” says Diken. It shows in the music. While Clap seemed caught trying to catch up to its audience, trying on new sounds in attempt to recreate their early success, Radical Dads have an easy vibe. Guertin laughs when I describe Radical Dads’ as loud, guitary, melodic noise “90s-style college rock,” as he met his bandmates at college in the 1990s. “We’re just doing the same thing we were doing, I guess,” he says. Today, all the bandmates live in the same building. Diken and Baker are married to each other.

Their influences include Dinosaur, Jr. and Yo La Tengo, and you can feel the pull of the classical period of guitar noise in other ways when you listen to them. “I’ve named so many different songs ‘The Sonic Youth Song’ while I’m writing them that I lost count,” says Baker. Diken’s AOL screen name was Pixies1.

Radical Dads – Serious Business on BTR [ep129]

Its members obviously feel extremely comfortable with each other and the music they’re playing. They’re also lucky in that their audience has caught up to them, with their style of fuzzy, backwards-looking alternative rock recently back in style. Still, getting to the next step seems difficult to them.

Part of the problem is not having the great asset of a band in their early 20s: a large group of friends who will come to anything you do. “In the early days of Clap, all of our friends who lived here would come to every show. I wasn’t even in the band for the first few shows, and I went to every show. Any friend who was in a band, you’d go to their show, and you’d know half the people there.” This isn’t the case any more. Guertin can barely get his own wife to come out. She’s started getting up early to do school work, and “After lunch, basically, she’s done for the day,” he said. “She wants to take a nap.”

Schedules are a larger issue. Baker is a teacher, and Diken works at a tech company. They practice after work, and tour in the summer when Baker is off of school, but can’t do much touring otherwise. “Every year,” Guertin said, “Lindsay’s like ‘maybe I’ll take a year off next year, and really do it and Matador will sign us.’ Now it’s like, OK, that’s probably not going to happen.”

So, the inevitable question: is the band just a hobby?

“That’s kind of how we justify a lot of the money we spend on it,” Guerkin says. “It’s like, ‘If this was just our hobby,'” meaning something like gardening or restoring cars, “‘then it would be totally okay to spend this much money on it.'” The idea, though, is that it’s not a hobby. It’s better than a hobby. It’s their band.

“I don’t know what I want,” said Guertin. “I just sort of want people to realize how good it is.”

Radical Dads played October 2, at 285 Kent, NYC.

10 Biggest Selling Vinyl Albums Of The Year So Far

1. Vinyl sales in the UK are higher than they have been since 2003. The BPI and the Official Charts Company estimate that sales of vinyl albums could surpass 700,000 by the end of 2013. Here are the top selling vinyl albums of the year so far – starting at number 10, which is Black Sabbath’s album ‘13’.


2.  Next up – at number 9, it’s Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ record ‘Push The Sky Away’. The NME review of the album back in February described it as “a masterpiece that merges the experimentation and freedom of their side projects with Cave’s most tender songcraft.”


3.  The National returned earlier this year with their latest album ‘Trouble Will Find You’. That’s the 8th most popular album on vinyl in the UK in 2013.
4.   Vampire Weekend’s magical third album ‘Modern Vampire’s Of The City’ – in at number 7.


5.  Thom Yorke may not be a fan of streaming services like Spotify but the Radiohead man has long had an affinity for vinyl releases. ‘Amok’, his album with Atoms For Peace, is 6th.

6.  Into the top 5 now. Queens Of The Stone Age ‘…Like Clockwork’ was released at the start of the summer. At the time it lost out in the battle for UK number 1 to Disclosure’s album ‘Settle’.
7.  After a lengthy break Boards Of Canada released their new album ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ this year. NME’s review said: “’Tomorrow’s Harvest’ is a dark, often uncomfortable affair, more nuclear winter than summer anthem”. It’s number 4 in the list.
8.  David Bowie goes top 3 with ‘The Next Day’. The legend took us all by surprise back in January by emerging from the shadows to release his first new album in a decade.
9.  No surprise that Arctic Monkeys’ loyal following went out and bought their fifth album ‘AM’ in their droves. It remains one of the fastest selling albums of the year. Popular on vinyl too. In the month or so it’s been out it’s become the 2nd biggest selling album on vinyl of 2013.
10.  And… 2013’s biggest selling album on vinyl in the UK so far is Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’. Not only is the music incredible, but there’s something about seeing that artwork blown up which makes it desirable for any collector of new releases.

The Vinyl Countdown – Why Is Everyone Buying Records Again?

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In the midst of the worst times for the music business since the great semiquaver droughts of 1832, the BPI has just reported that annual sales of vinyl records have burst over the half-million mark for the first time in a decade. And it’s only October.

That’s a lot of records, bucking a trend that’s been going off a cliff for years. The number of vinyl records being sold has doubled since this time last year, and the format has increased its share of total albums sold in the UK by eight times since 2007.

So what’s going on here? Why are so many people buying records again?

The BPI survey uncovered an interesting age split in what people felt they were getting from vinyl. The vast majority of 16-44 year olds that they talked to said that the most important reason was that “the process of playing a vinyl record is more enjoyable.” It seems like a world of instant gratification, the ritual of dropping a needle onto an LP has taken on an almost religious significance. The popularity of free download links is also surely significant – why just buy mp3s when you could buy an actual real-life record and get the mp3s included?

Meanwhile, under 16s are most concerned with the cover art (presumably it’s just nice for them to look at something that isn’t on a screen) while over 45s are hanging onto their audiophile belief that records just sounds better (man!).

Remarkably, almost 4% of vinyl-buyers surveyed said that they don’t even own a record player, which means there’s something like 20,000 LPs out there that are either just being bought as objets d’art or for their more traditional purpose: as flat surfaces to roll joints on.

As reported earlier this week, it’s not just classic albums being sold.  But you won’t be surprised to know that Daft Punk, David Bowie and Arctic Monkeys have all been enjoying bumper sales.

Part of the popularity of newer bands’ releases on vinyl seems to be down to the emergence of a younger group of record junkies. While 35-44 year olds are still the most likely to buy LPS, over a third of buyers are aged under 35. So in the future, when CDs have gone the way of the minidisc, and when all the music ever recorded is hovering us above us in the cloud, there will still be people with big black discs in their homes, not quite sure whether to play them or frame them, but sure that they can hold onto them with both hands, and that they mean something.

Check this out: 10 Biggest Selling Vinyl Albums Of The Year So Far

UK Based Independent Label Considering New House Music Artists

Jun 26, 2013
Category: Record Labels – A&R
Type: Record Label
Genres: House
Details: Snatch! Records, UK Based Independent record label that focuses solely on house styles of music, is looking for house and tech house artists for label representation.Tracks need to have a clean and clear sound – originality is more than welcome. Snatch! Record’s focus is to push new talent and well-established forward thinking producers and artists into today’s competitive music industry.Now a year in and 15 releases under their belt featuring artists like David Keno, Donk Boys, Kolombo, LouLou Players, Thomas Schumacher, Tapesh, Maximiljan, Pirupa, Ramon Tapia, Starr Traxx, Amir and many other of the hottest house artists, Snatch! Records is always pushing the boundaries of house music.Snatch! Records will not respond to direct messages regarding this opportunity.
Deadline July 25, 2013
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