Although album sales ticked up in the first half of 2011 for the first time since 2004, and Fleet Foxes' Helplessness Blues is one of the fastest-selling albums in Sub Pop's history, local music retailers are in retreat. Last month, Sonic Boom announced it was closing its Capitol Hill store and focusing on its Ballard location. And last week, Everyday Music said it was shuttering its Capitol Hill location, and looking for something more affordable.
Local retailers, says Silver Platters owner Mike Batt, are facing problems on a number of fronts. First, there is an abundance of local shops, he says. " If there weren't [so many]," Batt says, "there wouldn't be a problem. It's only part of the problem." The bigger issue, Batt says, is the economy, a shaking music industry, and piracy, particularly, of late, when it comes to movies and television.
"There's a number of us, also, it's not just all about music, it's also about movies," Batt says. "You want to talk about downloading and pirating and that stuff, movies has really taken a hit in the last year. Also, with the spread of Red Box, and the spread of really high broadband and Netflix streaming, that has really impacted the end of things. That hurts."
In a story titled "Hollywood, Telecom Firms Gang Up on Web Pirates," The Wall Street Journal reported last week that:
While music piracy has decreased in recent years with the rise of legitimate digital music stores, piracy via file sharing networks is a growing problem for the film and TV industry.
Eric Garland, founder of BigChampagne Media Measurement, which tracks online activity, said that online file sharing of feature films and TV shows is increasing at an "alarming rate," with top movies being downloaded millions of times, on average.
"Tens of millions of Americans are passing entertainment media around online without permission," said Mr. Garland.
Nielsen's Bakula says that while folks were quick to argue that rising album sales were a direct result of a court-ordered shutdown of file-sharing service LimeWire, "for every LimeWire there are 37 million other places out there [to get free music]."