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04/01/2007

Blockbuster musicians had a 1983 year in 2006

I had a great conversation with my step-brother, a musician who lives mostly in LA (at least he's trying to get back out there) and is working hard on composing music with his new band.

Naturally we spoke a fair bit about where our interests overlap: Last.fm, Pandora, Creative Commons and the "death of the blockbuster" idea from The Long Tail.

He hadn't heard of any of those things but he was certainly tuned to the zeitgeist. He wasn't interested in being a blockbusting artist, he just wanted to get his band's tunes out there any which way and to find people who would appreciate his art.

His instinctive search for his niche is a fortunate strategy since the concept of a blockbuster artist is becoming less and less useful these days. Witness Chris Anderson's latest analysis of hit albums in 2006, blockbusters in the US suffered a...

...precipitous decline in gold, platinum, multiplatinum albums (that's 500,000, 1,000,00 and 1-10 million units sold). According to the RIAA's database, just 285 albums were awarded one of those certifications in 2006, the lowest figure in 23 years.

Check out that falling-off-a-cliff graph that covers the last half century:

What if all music was free? For a lot of people, it is already - one way or another.

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Comments

I think we will deffinately see this trend continuing but to what extent still remains to be seen.

Personally I think there will be more polarisation between the "block busters" and "long tails". Music stores will still be around, but I believe they will need to sell more volumes of the "block busters" in order to remain competitive while online sales will grow by catering to more niches - making the long tail longer further.

Now imagine how long that tail could become if myspace offered a direct distribution channel between artists and users...

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