I assume you are talking solely about raw sales numbers. An album selling more than 30 million copies worldwide (I know, 21 hasn't reached this yet) in an era of illegal downloading and consumer tastes shifting away from music purchasing is arguably as impressive as an album selling 50-60 million in a more favourable era. Therefore I don't believe it has "benefited from the situation" at all - in fact its sales numbers now are lower than they would have been in an earlier music-friendlier era!
This last one I don't agree with at all. As has been agreed by all 21 is tapping into a demographic that only buys a couple of albums a year.
..as well as being bought by those who do buy albums regularly.
ShayLaB wrote: studies have shown that the vast majority of illegal downloads are by the group that also buys the most albums. The sales of 21 are proportionally less likely to be impacted than most other contemporary releases. The people who indulge in illegal downloads are unlikely to be the demographic that are driving it's impressive sales.
Well, obviously not, as they are downloading it illegally...
ShayLaB wrote:I understand the argument that album sales are falling because of illegal downloads but, as someone who was there when cassettes were the norm, I can tell you home-taping was cheap-as-chips and common-as-muck. High speed recording meant that you could copy an album in about 10 minutes...roughly the time it takes to download.
I'll take your word on this.
Everybody says that downloading is killing album sales but the reality is that the likes of iTunes are doing the damage. The ability to listen to and cherry pick is removing the need to pay for the filler.
Compare the chart below with the one I posted earlier on album sales...you see the correlation?Source
Yup - that is quite a scary graph!
Still, doesn't that prove that an album which is still selling 20-30 million copies in an era where you can pick and choose individual tracks to download is extremely impressive (and arguably more so than albums selling the same in previous eras). After all, as you say, no-one has
to buy the album for certain tracks these days and yet millions still have.
ShayLaB wrote:If, as posted earlier, the population has risen by 30% in the intervening 30 years the pool of potential buyers is now much larger and the sales of 21 could be said to be less impressive in comparison. I just highlight this to illustrate that speculating what it could have sold decades before is completely pointless - you could also point out that albums are significantly less expensive in real terms than in years gone by. It just is what it is and every valid argument presented to inflate the sales of 21 can be countered with an argument to the contrary.
I agree to an extent - in that it's pointless positing what a particular album would have sold in another era. However I still think you're missing the point about changing consumer trends in leisure activities. 30 yrs ago there were very few video games, no internet, etc. and music purchases were one of the few entertainment outlets for people to spend their money on. Now the choice is much more diverse. So you can't just say "the population has risen by 30%, therefore the bestselling music album should have sold 30% more" - that would be implying a stable proportion of peoples' leisure budgets/tastes which is manifestly not the case.