We are now nine and a half months into 2014, and the sales numbers for the music industry are looking particularly grim. While the fourth quarter is typically when the most sales occur, things have never been quite so bad.
In 2014, not a single artist’s album has gone platinum. Not one has managed to cross that million sales mark.
One album has managed to sell over a million copies so far this year, but it’s a soundtrack. The ever-popular Frozen soundtrack may slowly be working its way down the charts, but it is by far the best selling collection this year. Though it doesn’t have any marquee names on it—those that are usually expected to sell the best—the soundtrack has managed to move 3.2 million copies so far, and with winter coming, that number is sure to rise.
By this time last year, five different CDs had hit one million units sold or more, with Justin Timberlake’s comeback LP The 20/20 Experience in front. By the beginning of Q4 in 2013, that album had moved 2.3 million copies, which is still far behind the success of Frozen.
In fact, album sales this year are so bad, you have to look all the way down to number four on the list of best-sellers to even find something that was released in 2014. The number two and three sellers are Beyonce’s surprise self-titled album and newcomer Lorde’s Pure Heroine, respectively. Both of those have moved in the area of 750,000 so far this year. Both albums were released in 2013 and moved the bulk of their numbers then, but have continued to enjoy commercial success.
Number four on the list is country star Eric Church and his album Outsiders, which is only 20-something thousand behind Lorde. Immediately behind him is Coldplay, whose Ghost Stories isn’t trailing by much.
Comparatively, 60 songs have sold one million (or more) copies, something not unusual in a world where loving a single no longer means having to purchase an entire album. While 60 is surely better than…one…when it comes to million-plus sellers, it’s not all good news. Last year, 83 songs went platinum, so digital single sales are sliding as well, but not as quickly.
We are now in Q4, and the time for record sales to spike is upon us. As more and more shoppers look for the perfect gift for loved ones, the record industry is hoping that they turn to albums, as so many have in the past. Sadly, the rest of 2014 doesn’t have many huge chart toppers left. We are not expecting albums from Adele, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars or the handful of others who still have the power to move millions of albums. While anything is possible—especially in a post-Beyonce, drop-an-album-at-anytime kind of world—it is unlikely that anyone is coming to save 2014’s lackluster record sales.