Album sales up in 2011; first increase since 2004

April 3, 2012 by Bryne Yancey

Album sales up in 2011; first increase since 2004

Discmakers has an interesting report culled from a series of sources that indicates album sales were up in 2011 by 1.3%. While that growth is incremental by nearly any measurement, it's notable because it's the first increase in album sales since 2004:

"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."

What do you think? Is this an aberration or the first sign of an upswing? Let us know in the comments.

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