“Black Friday” Not So Great for Music Industry

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Is that still an “industry,” even? Billboard is pointing out that while many retail sectors are breathing a sigh of relief after post-Thanksgiving weekend sales rose slightly, the world of music you pay for didn’t do so well. First up, high profile album releases from Guns N’ Roses and Kanye West both underperformed expectations, with G N’ R’s Chinese Democracy selling around 250,000 copies (compared to expectations of 300-700K), and Kanye’s 808s and Heartbreak moving 425,000-450,000 units (while many expected double that). Maybe people just don’t like those albums? Unfortunately, it looks like music sales in general suffered as well: stores like Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart showed declines of up to 40% compared to last year.

Online retailer iTunes doesn’t release specific sales figures (although big discounts on Apple merchandise over the weekend might suggest there are more people out there to buy their music now). ITunes did give out a list of the biggest-selling albums and singles of the year, though, with Coldplay’s Viva la Vida and Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” taking the respective top spots. A representative for Coldplay estimated at least 25% of their 2,000,000 US sales came through iTunes. Here are the full Top 10s:

Albums
1. Coldplay – Viva la Vida
2. Jack Johnson – Sleep Through the Static
3. Various – Juno OST
4. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III
5. Sara Bareilles – Little Voice
6. Various – Once OST
7. Various – Across the Universe OST
8. Jason Mraz – We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things
9. OneRepublic – Dreaming Out Loud
10. Leona Lewis – Spirit

Singles
1. Leona Lewis – “Bleeding Love”
2. Coldplay – “Viva La Vida”
3. Flo Rida – “Low”
4. Katy Perry – “I Kissed a Girl”
5. Rihanna – “Disturbia”
6. Rihanna – “Don’t Stop the Music”
7. Lil Wayne – “Lollipop”
8. Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown – “No Air”
9. Sara Bareilles – “Love Song”
10. Natasha Bedingfield – “Pocketful of Sunshine”

Hmm. Well, I guess the Lil Wayne album is pretty good, and that Juno soundtrack has Sonic Youth on it. Focus on the positive!

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

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