Saturday, May 17, 2014


On my April 19 post, I vented about my inability to find a copy of the Record Store Day exclusive title “American Beauty,” a four song vinyl EP from Bruce Springsteen that was produced in limited quantity (7,500 copies). The store I frequent had two copies, and they were gone before I got inside the doors.

As a music industry wannabe, I have subscribed to Billboard (the trade publication), off and on, since the late 1980’s. 

It’s an expensive magazine (used to be six bucks at the newsstand and $250 per year to subscribe), and I’d let the subscription go in recent years due to the high price tag. 

The last two years saw some killer subscription offers, one would imagine due to the same phenomenon happening with magazines as has happened with newspapers (the internet killing their circulation). 
So I am a subscriber again.

But I digress.

When I started this blog, my goal was to promote the idea of keeping the album format alive. I’d heard that the CD was dead, the album was dead, individual downloads were the future, and the sales figures certainly seem to support that.

But I further digress. Or do I?

Back to Bruce.

Unbeknownst to me, Sony released that exclusive EP, Record Store Day's Holy Grail, as a digital download a week later on iTunes and other formats. 

This week, it entered the Billboard 200 albums chart at number 31 with 7,000 copies sold.

Hold on there, Baba Looey!

7,000 units gets you number 31 on the charts?

I had NO IDEA how irrelevant the album format had become.

7,000 albums is me on a drunken bender with Stephen T. McCarthy's charge card at the Tower Record’s liquidation sale!

Back in the day, Bruce would have sold 7,000 copies at midnight of the day the album was released. In ONE STORE!

I get that his fan base has aged, and many of my contemporaries do not consume music, so this is not so much an indictment of how far Bruce’s star has fallen as it is total shock of how few album sales it takes to get on the charts.

If 7,000 units gets you number 31, how many units gets you number 200?

Number 200 last week was Darius Rucker’s “True Believers,” and I am wondering if the copy his mother bought at the checkout line at Target was enough to make the list (it’s been on the chart for 47 weeks).

I wish this blog had more followers so I could orchestrate an experiment. 

I’d love to be able to get a thousand people (in the US-different charts for different countries) to all buy the same obscure CD title to see if it would make the chart (and at what position).

One of you bloggers with a couple thousand followers-how’s that for a project?

A lot of people confuse the term "album" with a vinyl record. An album is a collection of songs. Also known as an LP, for "long play,"
although LP was really coined for the 12 inch 33&1/3 licorice pizza disc.

And the charts are telling the story...Americans do not want to buy collections of songs anymore.

The album may not be quite dead yet....but you may want to pay your respects.


  1. >>... This week, it entered the Billboard 200 albums chart at number 31 with 7,000 copies sold.

    LC ~
    The second I read that (meaning, even before I read your next sentence mentioning "Baba Looey!") I was ALREADY thinking the same thing you were.


    I'll tell you one thing: They might as well delete the old precious metal terms applied to big selling albums like "Gold", "Platinum", etc. No albums are going to achieve those levels anymore. Some individually downloaded songs will, but not whole "albums".

    I still don't think we'll see compact discs disappear entirely any time soon, but... yeah, the age of "The Music Album" is definitely over.

    And it's a sad day in "Storyville". And in the "Capitol", and at "A&M" too.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    Now I'm off to cut up my last remaining credit card!

    1. Stephen-

      It BLEW MY MIND.

      You still have that rare album that still goes gold and platinum, but they're rare, indeed.

      An era is over...

  2. The Billboard subscription price is outrageous. I think when I last subscribed to it the rate was about $115 per year and that was early 90's. Even that was expensive!

    I like your experiment idea. I don't know who could find 1000 bloggers willing to shell out for an album let alone to agree the one to buy. I still love the album format, but I just don't feel the compulsion to buy new ones like I used to. The thrill is gone I guess as I'm reelin' in the years and just waiting for a train.

    Tossing It Out

    1. Lee-

      It is a weekly publication, so at around $100, I think it's a fair price.

      Most people are writing it off as a business expense, so they probably do not care about the price so much.

      I think it's normal to not buy albums so much as we get older-I get that I am somewhat of a freak...but even among young people, the album is dying.

      Although I have an interesting post coming up about why there is still a glimmer of hope...


  3. I came here looking for your BOTB and realize that I'm so late, you've already covered it over. No worries, I'll find it and vote anyway.

    Just want to say, I had no idea. I do download music sometime, but still like to buy CD's and I have about 300 albums, in a storage locker in Idaho. I'm hoping to be reunited with them shortly, but I don't know if I have a turntable left in said storage locker, so it might not matter.

    1. Well FAE, if you got the itch, Best Buy sells turntables...


  4. We'd love to ask our thousands of readers to help, but asking people for anything is like pulling teeth. Ask them all to leave your book a review (for free), and we get maybe 10. Ask them to buy a thousand CDs, and I'd be surprised if even 5 went and did it. Ah, the Internet! Laziness rejoice!

    This reminds me of book sales. Some sales periods are just slower in general than others, so for example, one time we sold 20 copies of a book in a day, and suddenly Amazon says, "Your book is #1,000 in sales!" We cracked the top 1,000 just by selling 20? Man, if we'd sold 30 that day would we have been on a best seller list...?

    1. That surprises me, too-it seems like every book would sell 20 copies the first week just by family and friends supporting the author.

      You're right about inactivity and the internet...for most people, Blogger is little more than Facebook, followers are just something they count, and even comments not worth the effort (I get 40-50 hits daily but comments from the same group of four or five).

      I would imagine the same percentages would hold true for your follower base.

      Too bad. It would be cool if we could put an unknown artist onto the charts.


  5. I don't know how I missed this blog bit. Well, I do. I had so much going on these past few days that I just haven't been able to keep all of the balls in the air and blogging has suffered.

    I used to buy CDs regularly. I have moved three times since 2006. Each time I moved I got rid of more of *everything* and that included my CD collection. It also discouraged future buying... since the trend appeared that it would all get moved again in a couple of years. I honestly cannot remember the last CD I bought.

    I know the last one I was SUPER EXCITED about was Train's California 37 and I downloaded the whole thing onto my IPod. So, yes, downloaded music is the preferred venue. I am guilty of perpetuating the phenomena. Most people don't have the SPACE to store a bunch of CDs.

    My ex-husband was a CD freak. I thought he had a lot (as in too many) CDs until I saw your collection. When we bought a house his CD collection took up an entire wall of the office. When we divorced he got an apartment and just stacked them (in their plastic storage organizers) along one wall. I guess he didn't want to nail them all back up. Anyway, I never dreamed it would happen but even he has sold almost every single one of his CDs. Apparently he downloaded them all and then sold them. He is perpetually broke, so this shouldn't have surprised me. I just thought he'd sell one of his kids before he parted with his CDs. Just joking. Sort of.

    I had no idea this comment would be so long. Now, even though I have downloaded my share of entire albums onto my IPod, I find that I don't listen like I would to the CD. And I do miss that. Because if I really like the singer/band I often enjoy the B-sides more than the hits. Now I am hard-pressed to know any of the current B-sides. A great album has a theme to it that you feel in every song. It is an experience when you listen to the whole thing start to finish. And that is a concept that young people will never know. Many of them will NEVER buy even ONE CD in their lifetime. Why bother? They can download their faves onto their IPhone or IPod.

  6. Robin-

    I think when you put on a CD or a record, you're prepared to listen to the album. When it's on an iPod, it's so easy to just let the shuffle mode rule, or to just have a playlist of favorite tracks.

    But you nailed why I love albums-the experience and the theme.

    Do you back up your downloaded songs? Eventually the iPod battery will fail, and computer hard drives fail-hopefully you have a backup. I am in the process of backing up my collection to Amazon's cloud (they back up purchases for free, as I believe Apple does with iTunes).

    There are times I think I should get rid what I do not often listen to (which is a lot)...but then I look at the titles, and so many are like old friends...

    But if I read between the lines, it seems like you would characterize my collection as "too many."

    Do you think it reflects an impulse control issue?


    1. Robin-

      I left this on your other comment (more recent post) in error and deleted it....this was an old article, but since you love Train so much I thought I'd post it in case you missed it a few years ago...

      “Best piece of gossip I ever heard about Train?

      Pat Monahan was suggested as a replacement for Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin.

      The idea was dismissed out of hand, but it's a brilliant one, one Jimmy Page should still act on.

      Pat Monahan can sing those Zeppelin tunes, he's got the pipes, he does them in the Train show.

      And he can write.