Record Sales Plunge as Top Artists– Justin Timberlake, U2, even Taylor Swift– Sell Fractions of Previous Numbers

by Roger Friedman – Showbiz 411

Record sales are being touted these days as on a comeback. All you hear is: streaming will save us.

But things are pretty dire. For example, Justin Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods,” touted so highly on the Super Bowl and a hit in its first week, has been a total sales stiff. As of this week, “MoW” has sold just 285,000 copies.

Contrast this with Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience,” which was the best selling album of 2013 with 2.5 million copies. (Luckily, Justin had a smash single last year with “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”)

Even worse: U2’s “Songs of Experience” has taught us nothing. It had great songs, like Timberlake, but they didn’t save the situation. “Songs” has sold just 250,000 copies total. Remember U2? Their sales used to be huge.

In both cases, the only way to make money is touring. Timberlake and U2 are committed to long tours.

Even Taylor Swift has had trouble. Her “Reputation” album has sold 2 million copies, which sounds great. But it’s far less than her “1989” album, which did 5 million total since late 2014. “Reputation” is well past its peak and won’t do anything remotely like that in the end.

Columbia Records in particular is suffering. While parent Sony Music has kept up on the charts with the Epic label, and RCA, Columbia’s name has not been on the charts in months. Their Harry Styles solo album has sold only 375,000 copies to date— no amount of PR or touring has moved it close to 500,000 copies and gold status.

This past week’s chart should alarm everyone. The top selling CD/paid download was “The Greatest Showman” with just 38,453 according to BuzzAngle. Including streaming, the top seller was “Black Panther” soundtrack with 78,000 copies.

Where are the music fans? Back in the day, as they say, artists churned out music. Now it comes in a dribble, drip, drip, drip. A malaise has set in, that’s for sure, among rock stars.

There’s no really big name release until May, when pop star Charlie Puth releases an album that was scheduled for some time ago. Otherwise, we’re in a pretty stagnant period. Adele, who ruled the charts two years ago, won’t have anything out in 2018. Even Justin Bieber has no plans for new “music” until later in the year.