Album sales: Still down (15 percent). Track sales: Still down (13 percent). Mid-year record-business sales numbers: gloomy. And record-label revenues, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, have dropped by $2.3 billion since 2001. But there’s good news! Artists’ royalty payments have dropped by only $134 million during the past 13 years. At least Taylor Swift is happy (see below). Also, Trey Songz really, really likes cake (see below).
EATING CAKE = HAVING SEX, GET IT?: “Cake’s on the menu,” Trey Songz sings in the first song (“Cake”) on his new Number One album, Trigga, which sold 105,000 copies. It’s perhaps the silliest opening to a hit album I’ve heard this year, but Songz nonetheless has a chance to hang around on the charts. His single “Na Na” (which is both a Fugees throwback and a creepy love song about grannies) seemed to be fading after it came out in March, but the video has accumulated nearly 36 million YouTube views and it’s beginning to surge on Billboard’s R&B chart, hitting Number Five this week.
SEEMS LIKE SUMMER IS DOWN TO JUST THREE OR FOUR SECONDS: It’s already July 10th, but 5 Seconds of Summer’s summer may be just beginning—the boy band’s “Amnesia” opens at Number Four, selling 162,000 copies, on the Digital Songs chart, and its lyric video has snagged nearly 4 million YouTube views over the past nine days. Plus, “She Looks So Perfect” appears to be coming back, having launched 13 spots, to Number 26, on BigChampagne’s online-focused Ultimate Chart. And the band is touring with One Direction in stadiums throughout the summer. The interesting thing is 5 Seconds shares a management company with 1D—as we learned a generation ago with the Backstreet Boys and ‘NSYNC, two boy bands are always better than one.
FORTUNATELY, SHE HAS A DAY JOB: As you may have heard, Taylor Swift editorialized in Wall Street Journal about how the music industry is “not dying . . . it’s just coming alive.” It’s not a bad article (despite some major supply-and-demand flaws and a nonsensical kicker). But let’s focus on the WSJ’s accompanying chart, which shows the record business made 35 percent of its revenue last year from CDs, 40 percent from download sales and 21 percent from subscriptions. While in 2003, it made 95 percent from CDs. Which is crazy—in 2003, an entire five years after the world became aware of Napster, major record labels continued to make 95 percent of their revenue from technology they knew was obsolete. No wonder the business has crashed to the point that a Number One album sells just 105,000 copies—and pop stars must be trotted out for sunny spin.