Paid downloads are down and digital album sales are declining. It turns out people don’t like to pay for digital music.

Paid downloads are down and digital album sales are declining. It turns out people don't like to pay for digital music.

In news that should shock nobody, the digital music racket is starting to lose its luster.

According to Nielsen SoundScan data reported by Digital Music News, paid downloads (the vast majority from iTunes and Amazon) are down about 2.3% from 698 million (!) at the midpoint of 2012 to a paltry 682.2 million by the halfway point of 2013. This is the fourth consecutive reporting period (I guess quarter, they didn’t really elaborate on what a “reporting period” was) in which sales have dropped, the first time ever in the history of the format. Which is, what, 10 or 15 years?

In addition to this horrible, horrible news, digital album sales are drastically slowing down. Also from Digital Music News (don’t they have such neat graphs and stuff?), digital album sales are up 6.3% last year… which is still positive, right? I take it the news here is that sales for the format are starting to plateau and if you’re familiar with the shape of a plateau, once it levels off, after a while it starts to drop.

Now, while the articles above and the headlines make it seem as if this is a major blow to the industry in general, there are a few things to remember. First, there isn’t a powerhouse album like that 2011 album from Adele that kept selling well into 2012 (ask your parents about that). Second, there isn’t a new boy band dropping two albums in one year (ask a tween of some sort). Third, there isn’t a song so ubiquitous that it’s playing in every coffee shop, grocery store, gas station and, book store you go to (that stupid fucking Gotye song that I will not dignify with a hyperlink).

One interesting thing to note is that, from what I understand, the Nielsen SoundScan data includes information from all Amazon and iTunes sales. Therefore, unlike traditional physical SoundScan data that really only takes information from major retailers, this would include any independent artists or labels that make their music available on these services. Since independent shops are sort of excluded from physical sales data, it’s sometimes hard to get an “official” gauge on how an indie record is selling. Personally, I think a better chart/graph would be to look at exactly what labels are increasing/decreasing for paid downloads. Is it just the major label stuff tanking, or have people on both sides of the equation started to jump ship from iTunes etc.? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Trentemøller invites sad friends from Blonde Redhead, Low, and The Raveonettes to make beautiful, sad music together on new album

“Hmm,” says Trentemøller, as he readies his new album in his Copenhagen studio. “I’m so excited about releasing my third album, but it’s missing something. How can I make this album more depressing? HOW?” And so it was that the Danish electronic artist set about to inject his latest, Lost, with a refined sense of Scandinavian ennui. He looked up at the moonlit night sky. He looked deep into his heart. He looked into his Rolodex. “Ah ha!” he said. “I’ll call up my sad friends from Low and Blonde Redhead, etc., and get them to do guest spots! And then I’ll film a video for my new song “Never Stop Running” with Jonny Pierce of The Drums and fill it chock full of pensive-looking people who look like they’re on the worst weekend cabin vacation of all time!”

He rubbed his delicately manicured Danish hands together. “Now I’ve got it!” And so it was that Anders Trentemøller invited pals Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead), Jana Hunter (Lower Dens), Sune Rose Wagner (The Raveonettes), and basically everybody in Low to his Sad Cabin of Musical Collaboration. (Okay, this album might not actually be that sad — I’ve only heard the one song — but come on, you gotta admit there’s a lot of melancholy potential here.) With a release date of September 24 on the In My Room label, the album features 12 tracks that break the Trentemøller mold, such as it is, including a little number with Sune Rose Wagner called “Come Undone,” which we can only hope is a cover of the totally bummer yet totally awesome Duran Duran song.

Lost tracklisting:

01. The Dream (feat. Low)
02. Gravity (feat. Jana Hunter of Lower Dens)
03. Still On Fire
04. Candy Tongue (feat. Marie Fisker)
05. Trails
06. Never Stop Running (feat. Jonny Pierce of The Drums)
07. River Of Life (feat. Ghost Society)
08. Morphine
09. Come Undone (feat. Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead)
10. Deceive (feat. Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes)
11. Constantinople
12. Hazed

• Trentemøller:
• In My Room:

2013 sees 33.5% girth increase in vinyl sales, click here to see how real men, just like you, can get similar results

Thanks to many a not-so-clever article, “Vinyl sales are up!” now ranks as one of the most over-tired and annoying phrases in contemporary music culture, right up there with “It got ‘Best New Music’ on Pitchfork” and “Do you like Mumford & Sons?” So, guess what? (Hint: here is where things start to get over-tired and annoying.) As FACT report, vinyl sales are up! Only on this occasion it may warrant taking notice, as there have been significant upticks in many crucial sales statistics. The figures tell us that vinyl sales are up 33.5% across the board so far this year, which amounts to roughly 2.9 million vinyl records sold in 2013.

So why now? For one, the latest Record Store Day was the most successful to date (thanks to everyone looking to score by increasing the size of your already massive, ribbed, and woman-satisfying record collections); and for two, 2013 has seen a fair share of both juicy reissues and critically-acclaimed major label releases. This is good news for all us vinyl junkies pathetically clinging to our fetishized lifestyles.

To close on a serious note, our prayers go out to the terminally ill CD, whose perpetually waning health has declined even further, already diminishing by 14.2% so far this year. Get well soon.

Fuck Buttons come to a major North American market near you!

Hey, remember Fuck Buttons? It’s been a while right? Well, we just reviewed them yesterday, but other than that, remember? A couple months ago we said they had one coming out this summer. Summer has come and reigned down its oppressive heat and light on us and our reward for surviving (so far) has been granted to us; the follow-up to 2009’s pretty rad Tarot Sport (TMT Review) is called Slow Focus and is currently available from the fine folks at ATP Records.

But you already knew about the album, because you already downloaded it walked away from your computer and went to your local record store to slap some of your hard earned money on the table for a copy of the record like the upstanding citizen you are.

What you probably didn’t know (I only just learned it from the press release I’m using for this news update) is that part of the reason it took so long to come out is that the guys only write music when together in the same room. It’s also their first self-produced record. Fuck Buttoner Andrew Hung said, via the aforementioned press release, “we’ve always had a very specific idea of what our music should sound like and so it became about following the logical path [of producing Slow Focus ourselves].”

And now they’re touring North America this fall. The London-based duo doesn’t get a chance to tour on this side of the pond that often, so check ‘em out while you can. They’re hitting a few major cities and some festivals. Sorry, tertiary markets.

Here are the dates:

10.09.13 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent
10.10.13 - Costa Mesa, CA - Detroit Bar
10.11.13 - Los Angeles, CA - The Echo - Culture Collide Festival
10.13.13 - Mexico City - Corona Capital Festival
10.14.13 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean
10.16.13 - Toronto, ON - Wrong Bar
10.17.13 - Washington, DC - U Street Music Hall
10.18.13 - New York, NY - Le Poisson Rouge
10.19.13 - Philadelphia, PA - Voyuer - Making Time
10.20.13 - Boston, MA - Sinclair

• Fuck Buttons:
• ATP Records:

Arnold Dreyblatt and Megafaun collaborate on new full-length for Northern Spy; generations to come will speak in hushed tones of the APPALACHIAN EXCITATION

SEPTEMBER! SEPTEMBER! SEPTEMBER! Get ready, internet, for the biggest collaborative experimental folk LP of the year! This September, your brain is going to explode! Drink will flow!! Blood will spill!! MEGAFAUN and ARNOLD “DRY SPLAT” DREYBLATT come together to collaborate in destruction. It’s the APPALACHIAN EXCITATION! Psych-folk trio Megafaun, living up to their genre, are unstoppably psychotic. Dreyblatt is known the whole world over for grinding his opponents to an even more minimal pulp than his compositions! On September 17, tune in when the two go head-to-head in collaborative fury inside the NORTHERN SPY RECORDS THUNDERDOME ARENA OF DEATH!!!

Megafaun and Dreyblatt have intermittently worked together since 2008 when Megafaun unleashed some of Dreyblatt’s compositions at the Wire Festivals in Chicago, Boston, and New York City. But those, those were mere warning shots. The true frenzy did not come to pass until the two collaborated at last year’s Hopscotch Music Festival and later entered the steel-cage battle studio of Pinebox Recording in Graham, North Carolina (the collaboration was put off for so long because of conflicting schedules and fear of uncontrollable outcomes!!!) Recorded mostly live and without a click track, Megafaun’s Joe Westerlund says the album “marks a step towards Megafaun becoming more of a live-in-the-studio recording band,” one capable of unimaginable fervor!! Of collaborations such as this, Dreyblatt has said, “We are no longer one-dimensional people,” because the unbridled furor violates the very laws of physics!!

The APPALACHIAN EXCITATION, coming this September is a once-in-a-lifetime event that only the gravest of fools would dare to miss. Listen to “Home Hat Placement” from the album below, if you feel you are prepared. SEPTEMBER! SEPTEMBER! SEPTEMBER!


01. Home Hat Placement
02. Recurrence Plot
03. Edge Observation
04. Radiator

• Megafaun:
• Arnold Dreyblatt:
• Northern Spy:

Now, more than ever, the world needs an Egyptian Lover anthology box set

Girls. Freaky girls. Egypt. Partying in Egypt. Partying in Egypt with freaky girls. The growing pangs of a new democracy. These topics are the stuff seminal West Coast electro-rapper Egyptian Lover’s dreams are made of. Well, maybe not that last one, but who knows? Maybe Egyptian Lover will spit some rhymes about the Arab Spring on his forthcoming new release. Sure, the 80s were about girls, partying, and Egypt, but it’s a new world now, and that new world needs Egyptian Lover’s innovative blend of electronic music and old school hip-hop now more than ever.

And so, L.A.’s own Stones Throw label is giving the Lover the retrospective treatment he so richly deserves. The man known to his mama as Greg Broussard is in the midst of compiling his work into an anthology box set featuring classic and, yes, unreleased tracks for a 2014 release. The Stones Throw anthology will also include some mysterious kind of 12-inch — be it a new track or a classic track, only one thing can be sure, this 12-inch will probably relate back in some way to the land of the pharaohs. After all, Egyptian Lover’s oeuvre is a very consistent one. Known for singles like “”Egypt, Egypt,” “My House (On the Nile) and “Dial-A-Freak,” Broussard made Egyptian Lover a household name by releasing mixtapes of artists like Kraftwerk and Rick James together with his own 808-heavy tunes, later joining rap crew Uncle Jamm’s Army. Recently, Egyptian Lover has toured with M.I.A., and he’ll be DJing and performing at Hollywood’s Amoeba Records on July 26.

• Egyptian Lover:
• Stones Throw: