Every year there seems to be another gloom-and-doom article on the decline of the record industry (below is a snippet from an '07 WSJ article).
"In a dramatic acceleration of the seven-year sales decline that has battered the music industry, compact-disc sales for the first three months of this year plunged 20% from a year earlier, the latest sign of the seismic shift in the way consumers acquire music."If the CD is dead and iTunes has trained consumers to buy single tracks rather than full-length CDs, maybe Rock Band and Guitar Hero are on to something.
There seemed to be a bit of shock a week or so ago that Guns N' Roses was releasing a new track ("Shackler's Revenge") via Rock Band 2. I'm not too shocked as I was reading a recent Ad Age article that stated that all but one of the bands that have songs on Guitar Hero III saw a 100 - 300% increase in sales of that track. One of the cited example was that Alice Cooper's "School's Out" sold 12,000 copies in a one week period last December which the article says was a 453% increase. I guess it is unlikely that the full length School's Out CD sells anywhere near that number of copies.
As an old Alice Cooper fan, the question becomes "What becomes of the other 8 tracks on this disc? Does a great album fade away into one hit single?"
Over the past few years, I've met a number of musicians who have licensed new music to "Grey's Anatomy", "CSI", etc. If Guns N' Roses start a trend and Guitar Hero and Rock Band become the next vehicle to release new music, CDs might end up being nothing more than a compilation of previously released singles (though licensing issues will probably prevent this from happening).
It looks like a crazy time to be in the music industry...
Postscript: If 62 of the 63 bands on the Guitar Hero III game saw a 100+% increase in sales of their single, anyone want to guess which band sucks and will never get invited onto another video game? (The article didn't include the answer so all I can do is guess as well)