It is no surprise to read that overall sales of albums, including CDs and downloads, have again fallen. The BPI (British Phonograpic Industry) blames illegal downloads for the six percent drop in album sales. But surely the real reason is that people no longer have to buy a complete album when all they want is couple of favourite tracks.
The real surprise is that album sales are holding up as well as they are, even though there is an inexorable trend away from physical media (down 13%) to downloads (up 24%). When the only way of distributing music was by means of a vinyl record or a CD, it made sense to pad out the one or two A tracks with enough Bs and Cs to fill the space. That no longer applies. The BPI will continue to moan until it accepts the facts. Once digital downloads have wiped out the physical record there will be no need for albums.