2014 has been an absolutely crazy year, in music especially. We lost some amazing artists like Wayne Static and David Brockie, we had artists like Slipknot and Behemoth make an absolutely amazing comeback with .5 The Gray Chapter and The Satanist respectively, and we had some all around amazing albums. Good and bad, it's been one hell of a year for the loud rock scene.
Last quarter, we reported that there (probably) wasn’t going to be a platinum album in the United States for 2014. It was for good reason too, as the only release in 2014 that was anywhere close was Eric Church’s Outsiders at 722,000 scans, and if there were no more huge releases for the rest of the year, it would most likely be the only year without a platinum release. That was not the case, however, as Taylor Swift’s 1989 blew everyone out of the water, even Disney’s Frozen soundtrack.
It was still close, though, as Swift just barely snatched it away from Disney this year. Frozen ended up totaling at 3.53 Million, while 1989 ended up with 3.66 Million. Somebody had to do a slow-motion replay on this one too, as it was pretty neck-and-neck at the end. 1989 was just barely behind Frozen for the first 8 weeks of it’s release, but it was able to take the top spot in the last week (ending on December 28th) where 1989 sold 326,000 copies and Frozen only sold 64,000.
While there’s no doubt that it’s still a metric fuck-load of records, those are the only 2 real competitors for the top spot this year. 1989 and Frozen will be the only albums to surpass 2 Million scans. In fact, they’ll even be the only album to pass 1.5 million scans, and even 1.25 Million scans! The number 3 spot is taken up by Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour at 1.21 Million, and right before that at number 4 is Pentatonix’s That’s Christmas to Me at 1.14 Million. But that’s it! There are no other platinum sellers this year!
It’s not nearly as bleak as there not being a platinum seller at all, but as always, we have to look at last year to show a trend. Last year, there was no album that sold over 3 Million, yes, but 2013 also had 45 album that sold over 500,000 Units, with 13 selling more than 1 Million. By contrast, 2014 had 31 albums sell over 500,000 with just the 4 listed above selling over 1 Million. In terms of individual songs, there were 82 songs that sold at least a million in 2014, which is down from 106 songs in 2013 and 108 songs in 2012. 25 songs sold over 2 million in 2014 as well, which is down once again from 38 in 2013 and 41 in 2012.
Besides the bleak report, there is always some good news. The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack beat Beyonce’s self-titled album, and ended up claiming the number 5 spot at 898,000, as well as being the highest grossing movie of 2014! Not only was it a kick ass soundtrack, It marks the first year in history that two movie soundtracks have been in the top 5 together.
On top of all that, this year continues the vinyl craze as the total vinyl sales from last year jumped up by 52 percent! 2014 sold 9.2 Million LPs, up from 6.1 Million in 2013, and marks the seventh straight year vinyl has seen huge jumps in sales. Again, this will not be able to be enough to carry the music industry through hard times, but it is still some good news. Support your local record stores, people!
Otherwise, what can we determine from these statistics? Was it just a bad year for music? Is this a trend that will continue until the music industry collapses? This year saw a very significant drop from 2013, and we know that the music industry has been trending down for a few years now, but is the drop this year the result of piracy, apathy, or just not a lot of quality music? Is Spotify going to take over the world with their stranglehold on the music industry? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? The truth is, who the hell knows? There’s a lot of confusing stuff going on in the industry right now, and things will only get weirder for next year. Maybe we can see iTunes sales make a bit of a comeback with The Pirate Bay getting taken down (for now). Maybe pirates will turn to Spotify instead, maybe they’ll start buying physical CDs, vinyl, cassettes, reel to reel, or other torrent sites. But, again, who the hell knows? It's the wild west in the music industry right now, full of highway robbery, locomotives, and all kinds of awesome cowboy stuff.