Just to bring a small amount of good cheer to bear in the new year, at least in a relative sense, ponder this: While we all know that newspaper circulation and advertising are falling precipitously, the newspaper industry's got nothing on the music business.
Variety reports that CD sales during the holidays—traditionally the industry's strongest sales period—were down a whopping 21 percent. For the full year, CD sales look to be down in the double-digits. Those single-digit advertising and circulation drops don't look so bad now, do they?
There are some troubling parallels between the newspaper and music businesses and their dual decline: technology, changing consumer habits, hubris and sloth are contributing equally to the erosion of both businesses. And they're both desperately in search of a new business model (and product offering) to try to stem the decline. In both cases, ultimately, it may be irreversible: plastic CDs, like print newspapers, are increasingly obsolete, and both have much better digital analogues. (Sorry, I couldn't resist that.)
There's another industry heading for the same technology-induced precipice, as Marc Andreesen points out: DVDs. Online distribution of movies is coming on fast—did you notice last week announcement that Apple will start offering movie rentals via iTunes? A year or two from now, the movie and DVD industry will be another big story of a business struck a mortal blow by the conversion to digital. Wonder if there will be any newspapers around to cover it?