Buoyed by Adele, music sales up slightly from 2011

Steven Loeb · July 5, 2012 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/281d

Digital music continues to rise, while physical media once again falls

After a terrible decade, which found the music industry consistently flailing around, doing everything it could to take business back from the Internet, the industry is finally getting back on its feet now that it finally learned how to use the Internet to their advantage.

Overall music sales at the 2012 mid-point are up from the same time last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The industry has seen 853.2 millions albums and singles sold so far this year, up 4% from 820.5 in 2011. Unsurprisingly, nearly all of that growth came from digital sales, while sales of physical music declined.

About 91 million CDs were sold, or 61% of all albums, down from 66% in 2011. 38% of the albums sold in 2012 were digital.

While overall album sales were down 3.2% to 150.5 million sold, compared to 155.5 units at the midpoint of 2011, digital song and album sales were both up.

Digital track sales accounted for 698 millon units, up nearly 6%, and digital albums were up close to 14% from the equivalent time last year, with 57.2 albums sold. Digital albums are on pace to set a new record by the end of this year.

Interestingly, vinyl sales also shot up over 14%, though only 2.2 million were sold.

"While retail sales continue to face challenges related to broader market trends, digital sales gains are expected to achieve another record-breaking year," said David Bakula, senior vice president of client development at Nielsen, in a statement.

“The strength in other monetized digital formats, including music streaming services, is equally encouraging.”

2012 was the second year in a row to see growth from the previous midyear point. In mid-2011, overall sales were up 8.5%, the first time the music industry had seen any growth since 2004. Overall album sales, digital album sales and digital track sales were all up from 2010. Digital tracks went up 11% and digital albums were up 19%.

Best sellers of the year so far

The best selling album, by far, this year was “21” by Adele, selling 3.69 million albums. Released in 2011, no other album even sold one million units this year; the closest any other artist came was Lionel Richie with Tuskagee, which sold 912,000 copies. 876,000 copies of “21” were sold digitally, by far the most of any artist.

 “21” had the best selling week of any album this year, with 730,000 units in the week after it won six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, while Justin Bieber’s “Believe” had the biggest debut of 2012, selling 374,000 in a single week.

The year’s biggest digital single so far have been "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra, with over 5.5 million downloads, and “We Are Young,” by Fun featuring Janelle Monae, with 5 million.

These two songs are the only tracks ever to be downloaded more than 5 million times. The previous record was “E.T.” by Katy Perry, with 4.2 million downloads in 2011.

(Image source: atidierlife.com)

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