First, the good news. Indie labels and bands had a banner year. Spoon and Arcade Fire (both on Merge), the Shins (on Sub Pop), and Bright Eyes (Saddle Creek) all scored top-10 Billboard albums in 2007, carving out niches in the mainstream with the sort of individualism and integrity that's been in short supply.
But for the major labels and overall retail sales, however, news was bad. Record companies slashed their rosters of artists and executives in 2007, which marked the fifth consecutive year of decline for recorded music. (We got the first clue early, as the year began with Tower Records shutting its doors nationwide.) Album sales were down 15 percent from 2006, according to Nielsen SoundScan - tripling last year's decline of 5 percent compared to 2005.
Factor in a slowdown of digital growth and the picture is undeniably bleak - although the year is closing with a nice surprise for Josh Groban. Thanks to four straight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, Groban's Oprah Winfrey-endorsed "Noel" is now the top-selling album of 2007. Not only did "Noel" outpace Disney's "High School Musical 2" and "American Idol"-spawned "Daughtry," the year's other big sellers, but Groban also broke the 50-year-old record held by Elvis Presley (and his "Elvis' Christmas Album") for a chart-topping holiday collection. The Boston Globe
Individualism and integrity always seem to be lacking in major labels. I think one Étudiant writer/industry critic would agree.