What are people buying instead of music*?

Dipped my toe into the ever-circling “piracy debate” again this week: little new to be said. So this is a question I’ve wondered about a few times but not really seen answered. Let’s assume that the music industry has a point and that significant chunks of its core audience are spending less money on records than they did 10 years ago**. What are they spending money on instead? Real incomes are basically flat***, and people aren’t saving more, so perhaps something else is doing well out of the decline in music sales. What is it?****

*or other forms of digitally shareable culture?

**the idea that a download equates to a lost sale is silly, but the industry is still contracting, so saying “less money is being spent on recorded music” doesn’t seem controversial.

***real incomes for a lot of young people are non-existent, of course, but the record industry has done OK in previous periods of high unemployment. On the other hand, real incomes for a lot of people are falling so it might be that buying non-digital media has been sacrificed to rising prices of everything else.

****my own cheeky suggestion is that the decline of the recorded music market and the rise in interest in good food, craft beer, etc among young consumers aren’t wholly coincidental.


  1. concrete-floor-cleaning reblogged this from tomewing
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  7. theologyandgeometry reblogged this from tomewing and added:
    I like this. It (good food and good booze) would account for a good chunk of my personal expenditures, although music...
  8. teenageart said: Live music for some. But I also think food. Food is really the only consumer product that hasn’t seen a “cheap and cheerful” sector arise. And health care is becoming the developed world’s no#1 concern, and food is a part of soft health care.
  9. littlejoeii said: I’d like to say BOOKS and other less-pirateable and more sentimental media, but the sensible answer is probably ‘***’: rent, food, heating, travel etc.
  10. minimoonstar said: Tech, above all. The most egregious piraters I know spend over $100 on Internet and mobile data a month, easy, let alone cost of hardware. Video games would be #2.
  11. beckyontheinternet said: I would totally agree that I buy craft beer and good food rather than records much of the time. I’ll happily pay $20 for a burger and beer on the way to a concert and not spend any money on the band.
  12. hndrk said: The one obvious (unsubstantial?) hat in the ring would be video games — the industry’s seeing record turnovers and AAA titles now get lots of media coverage at launch. Might still be more niche in terms of consumption, but the $$ are thereā€¦
  13. sexshooter reblogged this from tomewing and added:
    only slightly related, but this reminds me that i haven’t listened to any new music in a long time, or any music at all...
  14. hardcorefornerds said: real income = average inflation; if the (average) cost of music has dropped, maybe other forms of entertainment (let alone anything else) have become more expensive, not necessarily consumed more?
  15. andrewtsks said: BOOKS. I can only speak for myself but since I can get the music I want for free I spend what little spare cash I have (which trust me is very little—less than $100 per month, for sure) on books. And comic books.
  16. jrichmanesq said: one guess is tech — how many records could you buy for the price of an iphone (and its monthly service contract!)
  17. tomewing posted this