Last week just two artists sold some nearly 500,000 records: Pink The Truth About Love (280,000) and Kanye West’s GOOD Music Cruel Summer (205,000). This is by no means near the industry peak from over a decade ago, but not half bad considering all the supposed doom and gloom engulfing the music business.
However, one mega artists whiffed big time last week. The hit single of the summer “Call Me Maybe,” was released in “album” form by Carly Rae Jepsen, her album Kiss. The single of over 270 million YouTube views, that inescapable song covered by Kelly Clarkson all the way to Cookie Monster. Guess what? Kiss sold a measly 46,000 copies. That’s a stunningly few amount of units when you’ve got a cultural touchstone on your hands.
Now what does that mean? Well, I’m sure many fans already bought the earlier Curiosity “EP,” or the single, or just didn’t care enough about Carly Rae Jepson to buy a full album of her music. The album is dead right, how is this news?
Well just today on Morning Edition I heard a story about the affects of streaming music on musicians and their album sales. Take a listen yourself. YouTube supposedly only takes 45% of the share of ad revenue from the artists, but it seems vague to say the least.
In fact, this corellates perfectly with their “How Musicians Make Money” series. They featured Spotify just yesterday. An independent artist could be making as little as $0.004 per play on Spotify! Which is supposedly even better than YouTube - somehow!
“McKeown notes that at least Spotify pays better than one even more popular service — YouTube.”
So if Spotify is paying fractions on the cent to some artists, and YouTube pays even less than that, how much is Ms. Jepsen making on those 270 million plays? Not that I’m concerned about her financial standing, but it seems like a raw deal for just about everyone. Aren’t these YouTube views cannibalizing album sales? It sure seems so.
“[Spotify] does cannibalize to some extent,” Mills says. “I mean, it’s fashionable to say it doesn’t, but of course it does. We all know people who’ve either stopped buying records or stopped downloading, are just using Spotify.”
While we’ve seen older, more established artists like Pink or Dave Matthews Band still sell hundreds of thousands of records, a perhaps even bigger pop star is now selling far fewer. Is this the beginning of a trend?