In the United States, an album must sell ten million copies (10x Platinum) to be certified Diamond. Given my interest in today’s music industry, I did a bit of research. The most recent Diamond certified album that I could find was Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, a double album by OutKast that shipped 5 million copies after its 2003 release. The RIAA counts double album sales twice, which put this at the 10 million mark for Diamond certification. A similar situation occurred with Shania Twain’s 2002 album Up!, another double album.
The most recent single album I could find that had received Diamond certification was Come Away with Me, the 2002 debut album from Norah Jones. This is probably the more accurate reference as the album literally sold over ten million units in the US.
Interestingly, this information means that as far as US sales are concerned, no recorded album has sold more than ten million copies in roughly the past six years. I would venture to say at this point that Ms. Jones will go down in history as the final recipient of this award (somebody please let me know if an album proves me wrong). Also extremely interestingly, 2002 marks Apple’s release of the very first iPod, the device that I would say propelled digital music formats into the mainstream.
Funny how that works…digital music formats like mp3s, and the devices play them, start taking off —and compact discs and their players – the previously dominating format, begins to decline. In the past half-decade music has moved from something you carry around in a bulky disc notebook to something that fits in your pocket. Finding new songs, artists, and genres has become easier than ever thanks to the Internet and the ease with which individual files can be shared. Yet for some reason, the “industry” has decided that we’re supposed to keep on buying CDs forever.
A transformation happened nearly overnight and it seems like many just haven’t managed to wrap their minds around it. It’s time to move on. It’s time to take advantage of the fact that individuals are able to discover and listen to more music than ever before to get new things out. Take filesharing for what it is—a vehicle of discovery for people who love music. No, people aren’t going to be getting rich by producing a single album anymore, but what they can and should be doing is selling us an experience. That’s something you can’t trade online.