The upside to low record sales

(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

No record has received platinum certification in 2014, but it doesn’t mean this year will be remembered as the year popular music died.

Since 1976, the Record Industry Association of America has given platinum record certification to albums that have reached or exceeded one million copies sold. Even with upcoming releases from Foo Fighters and Taylor Swift, fans aren’t buying music anymore.

“The traditional music industry is falling to the wayside and new innovative approaches are increasing listenership,” said Tim Rayne, station manager for 97.9 CHSR FM in Fredericton.

Other than the soundtrack for Disney’s animated film Frozen, no artists reached platinum status. Meanwhile, music fans migrated from the listening booths of record stores to the online world, outside of the rigid album format.

“Even discs that were huge flops like Robin Thicke’s Paula, which only sold 24,000 copies still have well over 10 million YouTube plays,” said Don Levandier, frontman for Moncton’s Motorleague.

Rayne says music production is better than ever, but the lack of major records sales shows that more people are promoting local music that isn’t tracked by the RIAA.

“A lot of people are starting to promote artists from their area so they’re not listening less, they’re just being more selective and not going mainstream,” said Rayne.

With streaming sites like YouTube and Soundcloud, fans no longer need to buy an album. Benji Rogers is the founder and president of PledgeMusic, a direct-to-fan music platform, and he wants artists to get creative.

“The market has changed and what that has meant is consumer experiences have to be much broader for everybody, but your super-fan experience is what actually still makes you the majority of your money.”

Rob Pinnock, a radio personality for Fredericton’s rock station 105.3 The Fox and teacher of a rock and roll history class at University of New Brunswick, wants to see people buying records again.

“When I buy an album, I really feel like I’ve bought into something that I believe in. I’ve become a part of something. Digital formats don’t have that same cache. Unfortunately those who still buy music are a smaller number, but they are the more committed music lovers.”

Rogers would like to see the music industry cater to all types of fans. Platinum status may be irrelevant, but this forces artists to reinvent the way they sell music.

“What I do believe in one thousand per cent is that there are men and women all over the world who want more than they’re being offered and the industry has decided not to offer it to them.”

With files from Erin Bond 

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