Why there is a decline in the sales of music albums

Do you still purchase music albums? Our listening pattern has drastically changed with the advent of technology and music albums may soon become obsolete. The sales of music albums have already dipped. A brief history of the concept of albums and the reason for its decline is provided in this article.


Everybody likes to listen to music. It makes you feel relaxed. Even there is music therapy to treat certain disorders. There are different types of music like classical, pop, rock, devotional and many more. Nowadays, we have so many options to listen to music and you may find people even listening to their favorite numbers by plugging in the earphones while carrying out their daily routine tasks. Though it is not advisable to listen to music while carrying out some important tasks, many music lovers do not listen to those warnings.

The scenario at the beginning

Things were much different before the advent of modern technology and earlier the only option available to people to listen to their favorite numbers was radio. To purchase an album was a costly affair and at that time the Long Playing discs or Vinyl records were very popular. I am sure in many homes you will find those record players, popularly known as turntables, kept very carefully as a symbol of yesteryear charm.

Recently the Long Playing records, known as LP, turned 70 years. Way back in 1948, Columbia Records introduced the first one. Many have thought that the days are over for those large shiny vinyl discs, but they came back in a big way. It is still available and according to the latest statistics, more than 7 million vinyl LPs were sold in the USA during the first few months of 2018.

Surprisingly, according to different surveys, the sale of CDs came down while that of LPs went up. You will be amazed to know the survey report in the US that says many of the purchasers do not even own a turntable and keep the LPs in the shelf. They feel proud to declare that they are from the generation who are nostalgic about the vinyl records.

The concept of music albums

To release songs in the form of music albums was conceptualized during the 1940s and Dust Bowl Ballads by Woody Guthrie, an American folk singer, may be regarded as one of the first concept albums. The concept of music album was to string all the numbers in the album together with a theme. The theme may be lyrical or based on different emotional aspects. Earlier, it was solo pop numbers and later during the 1960s with the evolution of rock music, the scenario of recording albums gained momentum. The market was flooded with many stars who recorded hit numbers one after another.

The audio cassettes came in the mid-1960s and soon became popular. It was much compact and not so delicate like the LPs. The audio cassettes dominated the market during the 1980s and were popular even during the beginning of 1990s. Then came the Compact Discs and the scenario started to change. It was the beginning of the digital storage technology and since then with the introduction of more sophisticated digital storage mediums our outlook towards listening to music changed. The album sales also drastically dropped all around the world though we find many people hooked up to their earphones to listen to their favorite numbers. Do you think they are listening to the songs from any particular music album? Possibly, no. They are listening to the numbers they have added in the playlist. Nowadays, most of them do not purchase the CD or DVDs of any album. Rather, they largely rely on online applications.

Let's take a look into the reasons why people nowadays are not so fond of purchasing albums.

Why the decline in sales of albums

While film music albums are released periodically, personal music albums have lost their charm because of various factors. There are so many apps to listen to streaming online music and you can download many more from the internet even without paying a penny in India. There is no strict punishment for the violators of copyrights act and no strict guidelines to check piracy of music in India which is a concern for the music industry. Apart from downloading the songs, the streaming music available online through different apps is a big hit. You just have to type the name of the song in the app and it will fetch and play it.

Another factor is you do not have to think of the maintenance of the CDs/DVDs. Whenever you are purchasing the discs, you need to think of a place to store it. Then you have to insert the selected disc in the CD/DVD player or in the DVD ROM of your computer. Now, when you can store a large number of songs in memory cards of your mobile devices and that too by downloading them from the original source, few would think of the cumbersome method of inserting a single disc in the music players. When you can listen to your favorite songs by just tapping on the mobile devices, definitely many will find it convenient.

The concept of the playlist is also an important factor. Every song in a particular album may not be liked by all. So, people have to skip that number and jump to the next favorite one. With the option of playlists, one can select the favorite songs and add it to a playlist with a specific name. For example, the favorite romantic numbers may be saved in a playlist named 'Romance'. Favorite old songs can be listed in a playlist named 'Old is Gold' and so on. Now according to the particular mood, one can just select the preferred playlist and all the songs in that playlist will be played serially. This is a great way to play music according to our own selections and many of us follow this process.


The music remained the same, but our listening pattern has changed. Technology always enhances our way of doing things and it is no different in the case of music. Just think of those days when there was only a radio to listen to the songs. People had to wait for the certain program in a particular day to listen to their favorite songs and had to listen to the songs carefully to note down the lyrics. With the improvement of technologies in different periods, different devices were introduced and we came to an age where listening to our favorite numbers is just a matter of time.

Now, there is no need to purchase expensive music players for our personal listening pleasures and even a simple mobile device has the option of storing and playing back the music. While it's always enjoyable to listen to the songs according to our comfortability, we must not deprive the artists of their share of revenues. Rather than downloading music indiscriminately from various websites, we should do it from the official websites by paying for that number. The sale of physical albums may dip because of many factors, but music will always remain on the list of favorites when we will be thinking of entertainment.

Article by Sankalan Bhattacharya
Sankalan "Life is easier when you enjoy what you do"

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