Connecticut decriminalizes personal amounts of pot. New Jersey is poised to implement medical marijuana (just as soon as Gov. Chris Christie quits stalling on the bill signed into law by his predecessor, Gov. Jon S. Corzine in 2010). New York City bans tobacco smoke in parks and beaches across the five boroughs. Rick Ross is the new 50 Cent. Female emcees are en vogue again, selling records in the millions and signing million dollar deals. Labels are back to inking rappers that can actually rap.
At this rate, ten years from now, we may be living in a world where talent-based Hip Hop is the requirement regardless of gender, weed cigarettes are available in the local bodega and perched on the corner outside is some guy pushing a dime bag of nicotine.
Things done changed since the mid-Aughts.
Adding to the paradigm shift this week, the Associated Press reports that US music album sales surprisingly grew in the first half of 2011. Wednesday’s Nielsen Soundscan tracking shows album sales rose to 221.5 million units, a 4 percent growth from 213.6 million units this time last year.
“And the crowd goes wild...as if Holyfield has just won the fight.”
As meager as it seems, 4 percent growth represents the first gain in album sales since 2004! The increase is attributed to rising sales in compact discs and digital releases. “Nielsen also counts 10 tracks sold individually as one album,” the report states.
Does this mean that selling music is again a viable industry? Are artists back focused on making solid albums instead of only chart topping singles? Has the economy suddenly recovered and the millions unemployed nationwide are financially stable enough to spend their hard-earned duckets on increasingly less-disposable tunes?
It probably means that our parents have officially tapped into technology, copped a new iMac and tossed a few dollars at whichever artists was featured on Leno last night. Change is all around us all the time. But while the industry continues to lather itself in an archaic business model, that 4 percent growth is looking less like a celebration and more like an outlier.