Buried beneath last night's rocking Grammy Awards was a musical dirge by the industry itself.
Sure, it may not have been obvious, as new bands shared the stage with legends and winners like Norah Jones, Coldplay, and Bruce Springsteen walked away smiling. Harmony? Hardly.
CDs aren't selling as well as they used to. That's a fact. Nielsen SoundScan reported an 8.7% drop in prerecorded music sales last year, on the heels of a dip in 2001. Whether it's due to the quality of new releases, the proliferation of peer-to-peer download swapping, or just the soft economy, there are far more causes than solutions to the problem.
Five major labels dominate the music industry, and they aren't doing so hot at the moment. Record sales are dropping, and blank CD sales rose by 40% last year. Sony
Life after Napster hasn't been easy for the industry, so companies have banded together to fend off the attack. Some labels joined forces to create the Pressplay and MusicNet online subscription services, and record stores teamed up to develop CD-burning kiosks under the Echo banner.
One has to wonder where the consortium ends and the cacophony begins. You don't see other entertainment areas hurting. Video games continue to sell well, and movie studios are reaping the DVD harvest.
It's fitting that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel kicked off last night's event with "The Sound of Silence," as the recording industry's yelp hasn't registered much of a sound. It's also fitting that Bruce Springsteen walked away with a few Grammys. Now music companies just need to show the world who's Boss before the consumer walks off the job for good.