The argument of whether digital music is more popular (i.e.: higher sales) than physical is an argument that has been getting a lot of press lately. It may be hard to tell what is fact and what is skewed in favor of one side or the other. I believe both digital and physical have their respective uses and importance. Digital music is quick and easy to purchase and can be taken with you wherever you are – a revolution in music listening that got its big break thanks to Steve Jobs and the iPod. But for the true music lover, physical music still rules – it has better sound quality for starters. Music is an analog experience, one that is distorted when it is compressed into a digital format. Plus, physical products also can offer extra components that are not available digitally, such as posters, autographed pictures and more.
Many people are under the misconception that the digital music market has completely taken over and is close to eliminating the physical music market. But this could not be further from the truth. Digital music may get a lot more hype, but the numbers don’t lie.
U.S. recording industry revenues for physical music in 2010 were $6.4 billion dollars, in comparison to $5.2 billion in U.S. digital revenue. The worldwide statistics have a much wider gap. For 2010, worldwide physical revenue brought in a staggering $22.2 billion dollars. Worldwide digital music revenue only brought in $12.9 billion. These numbers show that while digital music is popular and is a growing sector, physical music will always have a fan base.
In fact, according to Nielsen SoundScan, 2011 year-to-date album track sales remain up by 3+% and 10+%, respectively. It’s also the 20th straight week where year-to-date albums are up over their 2010 numbers, with digital albums actually jumping about 20%.”
Statistics provided by: http://www.grabstats.com/statcategorymain.asp?StatCatID=9 and Nielson Soundscan
- Steve Jobs ‘single-handedly’ created the digital music market (telegraph.co.uk)