But the multiple ways to make money provide hope to a struggling industry and are also changing the kind of music that gets made and promoted. Album sales are often driven by older listeners who typically favor country and soft-rock artists like Taylor Swift and Susan Boyle.
Pop and hip-hop artists like Taio Cruz and Rihanna are sometimes underrepresented on the album chart, as younger fans in particular have moved to buying singles and streaming music online.
In the near future, that could mean more Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, less Nickelback and Keith Urban.
This has been an ongoing point of contention for my teenaged son and me. While his tastes tend toward album-oriented rock, his habits and finances find him picking through iTunes for tracks here and there from those artists he likes.
And what does iTunes give you? 30 second bites, which after two or three clicks is supposed to abet an informed buying decision. I would argue you get the most accessible parts in these 30 seconds, and will therefore pony up for your best guess at the most accessible songs. This data is surely tracked back to A&R (they of the big up-or-down thumbs), who then dictate the next generation of deals made, artists pushed, 30-second sound bites made available off iTunes. It’s incestuous cloning and it’s insidious.
My advice? Support the stable of artists making positive contributions to the overall musical narrative — and buy their albums.