Here’s an interesting bit of analysis. No matter what happens from now until the last proton in the universe has decayed, the biggest-selling album of all time will be Thriller from Michael Jackson. It has sales numbers that will never, ever be beat. It’s all in the math. Album sales have been in a free-fall since 2000, when nearly a billion albums were sold. But then along came file-sharing and iTunes which allowed us to get just the songs we wanted without buying an entire album. Album sales are about a fifth of what they were 15 years ago. There’s more choice and fragmentation in music. There’s streaming. And Thriller came out in November 1982, exactly the same time this new thing called the “compact disc” was being introduced. The album road that wave. In other words, conditions will never again exist where a traditional album release will have a chance at selling more than the 65 million we saw with Thriller.
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