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No More Hits

No more hit records. The music industry is dying.

One stark sign of the collapse is the new definition of a “hit.” In the old days—that is, seven years ago—an album would have to sell about 500,000 copies to reach No. 1. But Johnny Cash’s posthumous release last June reached the top of the Billboard charts after selling only 88,000 copies. In today’s highly fragmented market, hit records also have far less staying power than when albums such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller held the top spot for months at a time. “Almost every core operating principle in the recorded-music business has been shaken or challenged,” said Edgar Bronfman, chairman of Warner Music Group.


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