In a memo to employees, Sony Corp. chairman Howard Stringer wrote "While this will inevitably be a time of transition, it is also a time that holds great promise for us all. I personally look forward to working with all of you as we continue to develop and transform the music company into an even more vibrant and innovative force in the entertainment industry. At least until you are all fired or eventually replaced by widgets on MySpace."
Apparently that last sentence he said really low, under his breath, so only a few people in the room heard it, but according to two separate reports today on Variety, Sony has completed its acquisition of German media giant Bertelsmann's 50% stake in their Sony BMG joint venture. Variety then went on to tell us that the music industry as a whole closed out its third quarter at 297.9 million albums sold, down 12% from last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
While I could post a diatribe about the effects of this merger, or major label's inability to shift with the changing times, or the fact that while the "industry" is losing money from sales, no one ever mentions how much is being made through non-traditional outlets like sync licensing (what would an episode of Gossip Girl or Weeds be like without the great soundtracks?), but instead, I will leave it to the "industry" pros to explain the decline:
Guns N' Roses Chinese Democracy
Beyonce (yet-untitled third solo album)
T.I. Paper Trail
AC/DC Black Ice
Dr. Dre and Eminem (albums that are reportedly finished and ready to go)
Kenny Chesney Lucky Old Sun
Britney Spears Circus
Kanye West 808s & Heartbreak
Christmas albums from Faith Hill and Aretha Franklin
These are the records the "industry" hopes will help push the 200 million sales before Jan. 4 it needs to break even with 2007's total of 500.5 million. Now, without saying anything to them, read those band and artist names to the person sitting next to you. Then ask them what year you're talking about. That will tell you roughly how far behind the "industry" is from the rest of the musical landscape.