PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Weird Al Yankovic is perhaps the only member of the music industry's old guard who actually understands the digital future of that industry. Now he's leaving it.
Yankovic's 14th album, Mandatory Fun is his last in a 32-year deal with Sony's SNE RCA Records label. Sony didn't seem too broken up about the end of their relationship, as RCA execs outright refused to fund videos for Yankovic -- whose entire career was propped up by MTV-era videos for Eat It, Fat, Amish Paradise and I Lost On Jeopardy. As a result, Yankovic went hat-in-hand to any partners he could find and asked them to chip in and produce eight music videos.
College Humor, Nerdist, Will Ferrell's Funny Or Die, Yahoo!'s (YHOO - Get Report) Yahoo! Screen, Google's (GOOG - Get Report) Vevo and even News Corp's (NWS) WSJ.com answered the call and rolled out eight videos from July 14 through July 21. By the end of the run, Mandatory Fun was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and became the first comedy album to debut there since Bob Newhart's The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart in 1960. It wasn't just the parodies of Pharrell's Happy, Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines or Crosby, Still and Nash's entire catalog that propelled Yankovic that far, but the realization that the old ways just don't work anymore.
As Yankovic told participants in a Reddit Ask Me Anything earlier this month "I really don't think the album format is the most efficient or intelligent way for me to distribute my music anymore." He's not kidding. According to Nielsen, album sales of any kind plummeted from 755 million copies in 1999 to just 290 million last year. Compact disc sales have fallen steadily from 730 million in 2000 to just 165 million last year, but digital album and track sales saw their first decline in 2013 and just kept falling through the first half of 2014.