With digital distribution now representing nearly one third of all U.S. album sales, Jim Donio, president of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), tells CNET that the music retailersâ€™ trade group has attracted to its membership a â€ścritical mass of companies that arenâ€™t predominantly selling physical product.â€ť Of NARMâ€™s five new board members, three hail from the digital world.
NARMâ€™s changing makeup coincides with signs of that gains in digital distribution are begging to offset declines in physical music sales. Last week, Nielsen SoundScan reported during a NARM webcast that overall music sales have increased 4.8 percent year-over-year through Aug. 21, while overall album sales are up 2.4 percent during the same period (via Variety). Digital album sales, which currently represent 32 percent of the U.S. album market, are running up by 19.1 percent in 2011, while physical album sales are running down by 4 percent.
On the heels of the RIAA releasing its 2010 music market figures, Billboard reports that growth has returned to digital track sales in 2011.
Through May 1, sales of new release tracks are up 10%, while catalog tracks are up 7%, according to Nielsen SoundScan. For all of 2010, track sales growth had slowed to just 1%.
CD sales are down by 9% through May 1, Billboard adds.
While the digital music sales are encouraging, specific market drivers â€” e.g., a potentially favorable new release schedule compared to 2010 â€” remain unclear.
U.S. music sales during the first quarter were down by 1.3% from the same period in 2010 â€” and that may be good news, since the rate of decline was 6.1% a year ago, reports Billboard. Digital sales drove the business during the first quarter of 2011, with track sales up 8.6% to 339.1 million units. The industry also recorded sales increases for six consecutive weeks, although itâ€™s unclear what specifically drove the upswing (e.g., a strong release schedule or retailer sales promotions).
Eminem may have staged a â€śRecoveryâ€ť in 2010, but the year held a more nuanced sales story for the music industry overall.
The rapperâ€™s comeback album was the best-selling of the year, with â€śRecoveryâ€ť moving 3.42 million units during the 52 weeks ending Jan. 2, according to Nielsen SoundScan (via Billboard). That figure is fewer than half the number of copies sold of â€śThe Eminem Showâ€ť in 2002 (an album that also was the yearâ€™s best-seller). But Billboard points out that â€śRecoveryâ€ť is the biggest-selling album of a year since 2007, when Josh Grobanâ€™s holiday-themed â€śNoelâ€ť sold 3.7 million copies.
Total album sales in the U.S. for 2010 were 326.2 million, down 12.8% from 373.9 million in 2009. The 10 best-selling albums of 2010 together accounted for 20.1 million units, or 6% of the total album sales for the year.
Overall sales of individual digital tracks were up by 10 million units from 2009, or 1%, to 1.17 billion. Digital album sales posted double-digit growth, however, rising 13% to 86.3 million. Digital albums represent more than one quarter of all U.S. album sales (26.5%).
Taylor Swiftâ€™s â€śSpeak Nowâ€ť (Big Machine) sold 1,047,000 copies in the U.S. in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan (via Billboard). The last album to top the sum within a weekâ€™s time was Lil Wayneâ€™s â€śTha Carter III,â€ť in 2008 (1,006,000 copies sold). But Billboard notes that the feat has always been rare: only 16 albums have sold more than 1 million copies in their first week of release since 1991.
After ten weeks of lagging behind 2009â€™s tallies, year-to-date sales of digital tracks edged the prior-year in the week ending June 6. Nielsen SoundScan reports year-to-date track downloads of 510.6 million, up 0.2% from the 509.6 million units in the corresponding period of 2009. Billboard attributes the â€ścomebackâ€ťÂ to sales of several hit songs.
â€śRegardless of the strategies chosen by artists and labels to best serve those fans who still desire physical product, they should continue to supply CDs and LPs to the market,â€ť writes Billboardâ€™s Glenn Peoples. CD sales were down 18% in 2009, a decline comparable with the previous two years, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But Billboard says that in spite of retail closures and other woes, the CD â€” and physical product in general â€” is not dead. By Billboard
Total sales of albums, singles, music videos, and digital tracks topped 1,545 million units in 2009, a 2.1% increase from 2008â€™s 1,513 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In 2009, 36% of all albums purchased were at mass merchant outlets, 29% at chain outlets, and 6% at independent music stores. Digital music accounted for 40% of all consumer music spending during the year, with 89 digital songs each surpassing the 1-million-unit sales mark. Via Business Wire