Now That's What I Call Music, Explored

Nov. 11, 2008
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In today's New York Times, Ben Sisario explores a topic that's long fascinated me: Now That's What I Call Music compilations, a series that over the last decade has chronicled the evolution of American pop music in real time.

The article is worthwhile, if a little skimpy on big revelations, detailing the compilations' simple marketing model (bright colors) and lending a bit of historical context. Most interesting for those following the decline of the music industry are the last paragraphs, where RCA's general manager Tom Corson sounds less than optimistic about the future of even the company's most enduring franchise:

Despite that success, and its increased promotion, Now remains tied to the overall fortunes of the CD format, which in 2007 lost 17.5 percent of its market sales from the previous year.

Theres a type of consumer that still buys physical, and theyre primed for this, Mr. Corson said. The Now series, he added, will last to the extent that the physical market exists.

It's probably not a good sign when labels begin hinting that the entire industry as they know it soon probably won't exist, is it? 


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