Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The end of the year as we know it.

If you’re in any way depressed about the state of modern music then it might be time to look away, change channels or simply go off-the-page. The end-of-year charts simply back up what you already knew – guitar based rock or ‘indie’ music is very firmly in decline.

While research commissioned by the BBC suggests that genres are of less importance to today’s music consumer the labels and media appear to be following an agenda that is predominantly urban, EDM or pop-led. In this instance the stats don’t lie.

UK Best selling singles of 2013

1. Robin Thicke feat TI and Pharrell - Blurred Lines  
2. Daft Punk feat Pharrell - Get Lucky  
3. Avicii - Wake Me Up  
4. Passenger - Let Her Go  
5. Naughty Boy feat Sam Smith - La La La  
6. Katy Perry - Roar  
7. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat Wanz - Thrift Shop  
8. Pink feat Nate Ruess - Just Give Me A Reason  
9. OneRepublic - Counting Stars  
10. Justin Timberlake - Mirrors  


The full forty is here in all its gory detail and, as I don’t subscribe to the theory that Passenger, Imagine Dragons or Bastille are even remotely identifiable as such, you’ll be searching in vain for an act that would be traditionally known as rock or indie.

As you might expect rock fares a little – but not much – better in the albums format.


UK Best selling albums of 2013

1. One Direction - Midnight Memories  
2. Emeli Sandé - Our Version Of Events  
3. Michael Bublé - To Be Loved  
4. Robbie Williams - Swings Both Ways  
5. Olly Murs - Right Place Right Time  
6. Bruno Mars - Unorthodox Jukebox  
7. Rod Stewart - Time  
8. Arctic Monkeys - AM  
9. Gary Barlow - Since I Saw You Last  
10. Ellie Goulding - Halcyon
 


The top forty has a few more glimmers of hope but not enough sparks to light a decent bonfire. The streaming stats are equally bleak for rockers everywhere with only the Arctic Monkeys making a decent showing.
Most streamed artists of 2013

1. Arctic Monkeys
2. Bastille
3. Daft Punk
4. Eminem
5. One Direction
6. Imagine Dragons
7. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
8. Calvin Harris
9. Drake
10. Rihanna


Singles and album sales were slightly down on 2012, though singles had hit an all time high in that year and the slip is quite slight. Albums have been on a perpetual decline as the chart below proves.

ALBUMS – UK MARKET VOLUMES BY FORMAT FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS: 2009 – 2013

Format
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2013 share %
2013 +/-
CD
112.5m
98.5m
86.2m
69.4m
60.6m
64.4%
-12.8%
LP
0.219m
0.234m
0.337m
0.389m
0.781m
0.8%
+100.8%
Digital
16.1m
21.0m
26.6m
30.5m
32.6m
34.7%
+6.8%
Other*
0.146m
0.104m
0.052m
0.147m
0.073m
0.1%
-50.5%
TOTAL
128.9m
119.9m
113.2m
100.5m
94.0m
100.0%
-6.4%

* 'Other' includes Cassette, MiniDisc, DVD Audio, DVD Video, DMD and 7" box set albums.

All sales info © Official Charts Company

As in any popularity chart you can blame the consumer but it’s not the only story. Record retailers had their own top ten which is biased towards those people who shop at such outlets; at least they seem to prefer rock music.  The public can only buy what is out there or what they’re aware of and the retailers seem to recognise this, complaining that the labels release schedule was a little lacking 
The industry follows a trend as often as it creates one so we shouldn’t expect much better for 2014. A genuine upsurge of guitar music – and interest in guitar music – is needed in order for things to change much. Rock is important to the wider industry because it tends to be a greater driver of live which has become a greater source of revenue for artists of late. The age of the mega track is very evidently upon us, labels chase their tails rather than the long-tail and it may never have been as tough to make it in a rock act as it is currently.
The only way to rectify this is to return to great song-writing and hard work, back to basics essentially. Good luck everyone it’s clearly going to be another long, hard year.

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