Who is actually paying for music these days?

Buzzfeed.com addresses the question in light of the fact that at the end of August, “Billboard reported that the United States had gone through the worst sales week for music since at least 1991, when Nielsen’s SoundScan first began tracking those figures. That week in August, during which Wiz Khalifa’s Blacc Hollywood topped the chart with a mere 90,000 copies sold, just 3.97 million albums were purchased in America, down 19% from the same period the year before. Last year, album sales also hit a historic low.”

There are the obvious factors: illegal downloading, streaming, and the growing notion that ownership of music is, like, soooo late twentieth century. But buying and owning isn’t quite dead:

And yet, music sales haven’t hit zero. Somewhere shy of five million albums are still sold in America every week, despite what your Spotify- (or YouTube, or Soundcloud) obsessed friend may tell you — and that’s not to mention genuine blockbusters like Beyoncé and the Frozen soundtrack. To shed some light on who still shells out for music in 2014 and how the profile of music consumers has changed over the years, we partnered with the music data and analytics firm MusicWatch to compare music consumption patterns today with that of 10 years ago. MusicWatch conducted online surveys of over 5,000 music buyers ages 13 and older in both 2004 and 2014. These were our findings.

The key takeaway is that the the middle aged are the ones putting down their money for music:

Sixty-one percent of people who buy CDs are 36 and older, according to MusicWatch’s estimate. Ten years ago, that figure was just 36%. Back in 2004, people over 50 made up just 19% of the CD-buying population, but today they’re more than a third.

This could help explain the relatively high number of veteran artists who have notched their first career No. 1 albums in 2014, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Black Keys, Sia, and Weird Al Yankovic.

Other finds: teens aren’t much for buying music. And, hey, when you listen to some of the music being produced with teens as a target audience, who can blame them? Also: “A majority of people who bought music digitally in 2014 were female (53%)…”

In graphic terms (via MusicWatch):


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