Music Sales Sink to 1985 Levels. Did 1985 Really Suck or Something? | West Coast Sound | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Music Sales Sink to 1985 Levels. Did 1985 Really Suck or Something?

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Wed, Jun 18, 2008 at 3:00 PM

Sure, the papers are full of stories of gas prices shooting up and housing prices plummeting, but those are new phenomena compared to the steady declines in the fortunes of the record industry. The latest sales numbers show a decrease of 11% over last year - and that includes legal digital downloads.

1.86 billion albums (calculated at 10 songs per album), sold last year, which is the lowest number since 1985. Why that year? CDs were still new - and relatively expensive - and were just starting to catch on with consumers. LPs were on the way out and while the portability of cassettes was great, the quality and durability was pretty awful.

So where's all that extra money going? Video game sales for 2007 were $42 billion compared to $11.5 billion for music sales.

And what was rocking the Top 40 station of 1985 (back when there were actual Top 40 stations, and Casey Kasem ruled the world with an iron fist)?

The biggest songs according to Pop Culture Madness were

1. We Built This City - Jefferson Starship

2. Smooth Operator - Sade

3. The Boys of Summer - Don Henley

4. Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams

5. Walking On Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves

The number one selling album of 1985: Springsteen's Born in the USA. For 2007: Josh Groban's Noël... That's right a Christmas album. On that little one on one match up, 1985 comes out looking pretty good.

NME's 1985 album chart also shows a parallel universe of coolness:

1. Rain Dogs - Tom Waits (See a review of his show last night in Phoenix where he played the title track)

2. Psychocandy - The Jesus And Mary Chain

3. VU - The Velvet Underground

4. Steve Mcqueen - Prefab Sprout

5. Mad Not Mad - Madness

6. This Nations Saving Grace - The Fall

7. Live At The Harlem Club - Sam Cooke

8. So Many Rivers - Bobby Womack

9. New Day Rising - Husker Du

10. Hounds Of Love - Kate Bush

And just because it seems wrong to leave them out...

11. Meat Is Murder - The Smiths

MTV managed to encapsulate the best and worst of music almost at the same time.

If you were living in LA at the time, KROQ also gave you an alternative to Don Henley and Jefferson Starship, bless their hearts. Here's what Freddy Snakeskin and Richard Blade were playing on the Roq in '85

1. Depeche Mode - Shake the Disease

2. Felony - Vigilante

3. Pet Shop Boys - Opportunities

4. The Cure - In Between Days

5. Tears for Fears - Shout

6. Dead or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)

7. A-ha - Take On Me

8. INXS - This Time

9. Tears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World

10. Oingo Boingo - Dead Man's Party

I want to note that that web page also links to Kate Sullivan's oral history of KROQ which ran in Los Angeles magazine in 2001.

News reports also tend to have not changed at all either. From today's NME:

Bono, Bob Geldof push for more African aid. The more things change...

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