Album sales are on a downward spiral, with U.S. sales hitting a new all-time low. During the first six months of 2014, only 62.9 million CDs were sold, less than half of 2009′s six-month total of 136.4 million, reports the Wall Street Journal. While album sales are down, streaming revenue is up.
This is the case in many other countries as well. In Sweden, the selling of CDs account for only 20 percent of sales, and online streaming is king. Streaming rose 30.3 percent in 2013 and now accounts for 71 percent of music sales in the Scandinavian country, according to Digital Music News. In Japan, however, the compact disc is still highly valued, and accounts for about 85 percent of sales in the country.
“Japan is utterly, totally unique,” Lucian Grainge, the chairman of the Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music conglomerate, tells the New York Times. The CD still remains a primary source of revenue for record labels in Japan, the world’s second-largest music market, after the United States. Meanwhile, digital sales are quickly declining in Japan, going from almost $1 billion in 2009 to just $400 million last year, according to the Recording Industry Association of Japan.
The global music business is now seeking to increase the use of streaming music services like Spotify and Rdio in the country, and detach them from CDs. “When the decision makers finally feel that the heat is intense enough that they have to do something different, they will,” Ken Parks, Spotify’s chief content officer, tells the Times. “I think we are approaching that moment in Japan.”