Music sales are up. That was the big news at the beginning of the year, and it’s an encouraging sign that maybe things have leveled off in the music industry – apart from the sale of EMI and the drama involved with that. Sorting through the numbers, there are some interesting things to note, and other curiosities to get you thinking.
Total albums sold in 2011: 330.6 million. That’s up 1.3% from 326.2 million in 2010, and it’s the first increase since 2004, which is the big reason why this is welcome news.
Sourcing this info from multiple reports, the numbers don’t add up precisely, but here’s the general idea.
– Physical albums sold in 2011: 228 million
– Of the physical product sold, 225 million were on CD, nearly 4 million were on vinyl. How about that? Vinyl sales were up 36% from last year.
– Digital album sales in 2011: 103 million
– Digital singles sold 1.27 billion
Some reports went on to say that for the first time, digital album sales eclipsed physical sales, and this figure is arrived at by counting 10 singles sales as an album. I guess that makes sense, though to me, singles and albums just aren’t the same animal. CD sales were down 5.7% in 2011, which marks a rather drastic difference from the 19% decline seen in 2010.
Adele’s 21 was the biggest selling album (by a long shot), selling 5.82 million copies: 4 million were physical, 160,000 on vinyl – so that means 83% of those sales were physical. Adele also had the #1 single with “Rolling in the Deep.” On a side note, she wrote that tune in an afternoon – not a bad day’s work. “Rolling in the Deep” sold 5.81 million downloads, which, by the above logic, translates to another 581,000 albums, pushing her over 6 million mark. That still falls short of Usher’s Confessions, which sold 8 million copies in 2004.
The biggest selling vinyl album in 2011 is the same top seller from 2010 – and 2009. The Beatles’ Abbey Road has seen increasing vinyl sales in the last three years, selling 34,800 copies in 2009, 35,000 in 2010, and 41,000 in 2011. That album was originally released in September 1969. By the way, 93 of the top 100 vinyl sellers in 2011 were from the rock or alternative genre.
The breakdown of music sales by label:
1. Universal Music Group: 29.9%
2. Sony Corp: 29.3%
3. Warner Music Group: 19.1%
4. EMI Group: 9.6%
5. Indies: 12.1%
According to the USA Today article, “the industry” released 76,875 new albums (that sold at least one copy). These new releases accounted for 34% of the year’s sales; 90% of that take was from the top–selling 1,500. Bear in mind, CD Baby added 61,339 new indie albums in 2011. Not all the CD Baby albums show up in the “industry” figure, and not all of those new additions were “new” releases – but looking at those two figures indicates that 80% of new music albums were added to CD Baby in 2011.
Of course, these are the industry numbers, and trying to gauge all the indie sales that don’t show up, and aren’t even considered in the standard industry figures, is an impossible task. For whatever it’s worth, these are the numbers being reported, and they do tell a story. We’ll have to wait and see if it’s a happily ever after situation.
Album sales up in 2011, especially for Adele (USA Today)
Album sales up for the first time since 2004 (Entertainment Weekly)
US Music Sales Increased 6.9% in 2011 (The Stranger)