Here are some figures from Mina Kines at Fortune Magazine, in an article titled "The Plan To Save The Music Biz"
There were 106,000 new releases in 2008, compared with 44,000 in 2003, according to Nielsen SoundScan. (That is 290 releases a DAY, including Sunday!)
Of the 63 new releases that sold more than 250,000 copies last year, 61 were issued by major music companies.
In 2008, just 35% of album sales came from new releases, the lowest percentage since Nielsen began tracking the data in 1991. Instead of breaking new acts, major labels are increasingly relying on legacy artists and their catalogues.
Case in point: EMI with the Beatles. "EMI is run on catalogues," says Steve Knopper, author of Appetite for Self-Destruction, an account of the record industry's demise. "It prevents them from ever being completely destitute."
The record companies have become hung up on getting the "one hit", as opposed to developing the artist.
Jools Holland, a legendary British musician and television host, recently told British music magazine Uncut that classic albums from artists like Stevie Wonder would probably not exist today. "If downloading had been around in the mid-'70s, I'm sure there [would have] been no Songs in the Key of Life -- just 'Song in the Key of Life.'"
As my friend John Clayton says, "In the old days, 10 people a year would sell a million records. Now, a million people sell 10 records!"
No firm statistics have been released for 2009 yet, but expect there to once again be double-digit decreases in CD sales and revenue.