Most music didn’t sell a single copy in 2008
According to a new study, of the 13m songs available for sale on the internet last year, more than 10m failed to find a single buyer.
The research, conducted by the MCPS-PRS’s Will Page and Andrew Bud, brings us that much closer to proving Sturgeon’s Law – that 90% of everything is crap. It also provides evidence for the famous old rock critic adage – your favourite band sucks.
More importantly, these findings challenge the “long tail” theory that diverse, specialised items – though individually less popular – will together outsell mainstream “hits”.
Page is the chief economist at the MCPS-PRS Alliance, a not-for-profit royalty collection agency. According to his and Bud’s research, 80% of all revenue came from about 52,000 tracks – the “hits” that powered the music industry. Broken down by album, only 173,000 of the 1.23m available albums were ever purchased – leaving 85% without a single copy sold.
“I think people believed in a fat, fertile long tail because they wanted it to be true,” Mr Bud told the Times. “The statistical theories used to justify that theory were intelligent and plausible. But they turned out to be wrong.”
(Via Guardian Unlimited Music)