For the first time since 2004, album sales increased for the first half of the year. This overall gain of 1 percent in album sales and 8.5 percent if you count individual tracks can be attributed primarily to digital sales, but specific reasons for the boom in digital music downloads are subtler.
To begin, there are more ways for people to “try-out” music online, contributing to overall exposure to a multitude of artists. Pandora (NYSE:P) and Rhapsody are two examples of systems that help get music to the masses. Music labels have also gotten more savvy in terms of marketing – consider Lady Gaga’s massive Twitter campaign for instance.
Also worth noting is the decline of pirated music in recent years. Smartphones especially have played an important role in reducing this unsavory trend. For some users, the ease of pushing a button on their handheld and having everything synced exceeds the temptation to pirate music.
Finally, cloud storage systems (SKYY), such as those debuted by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) have made storing personal music collections in the digital space even simpler.
The music industry may finally be prepared to rebound after struggling to adapt to the digital frontier.