Record Sales' Decline Continues In 2008
January 2, 2009 at 8:52 AM (PT)
It was another tough year for the music industry, as the rise in digital track sales was still not enough to compensate for the continued drop in CD sales. Although the number of transactions rose in 2008, thanks to a plethora of individual track sales, the AP reports that the smaller profit margins of these purchases "continues a troubling trend for the recording industry."
NIELSON SOUNDSCAN data had total album sales, including CD equivalents of single digital tracks, falling 8.5%, from 500.5 million units in 2007 to 428.4 million last year. Digital track sales rose 27%, breaking the 1 billion mark for the first time at 1.07 billion. That still couldn't make up for a 20% decline in physical album sales, from 450.5 million to 362.6 million.
Every music genre took it on the chin at retail in 2008. Classical music saw the biggest drop at 26%, followed by country at 24% and Latin at 21.1%.
The best-selling CD this year was LIL WAYNE's "Tha Carter III," which did 2.87 million units. Following that were COLDPLAY's "Viva La Vida" (2.14 million) and TAYLOR SWIFT's "Fearless" (2.11 million) rounding out the top three. The top selling digital artist was RIHANNA with 9.94 million tracks sold, followed by SWIFT and KAYNE WEST.
Interestingly, the one physical format that did see an up tick in sales was vinyl albums. More vinyl discs were purchased in 2008 (1.88 million) than any other year since NIELSEN SOUNDSCAN began tracking sales in 1991. However, it would foolhardy to think it would become the "next big thing" again. The best-selling vinyl album, RADIOHEAD's "In Rainbows," sold just 26,000 units.
The other bright spot: There were over 65 million music sales in the final week of 2008, the biggest sales week in the history of NIELSEN SOUNDSCAN. The previous record was CHRISTMAS week of 2007 with 58.4 million music purchases.
More sales data can be found here.