Vinyl, Cassettes & Retail

Breaking: U.S Music Sales Are Up In 2011

image from Some bloggers overuse "breaking" in their headlines, but new Nielson stats that show music sales in the U.S. are up 1.6% in 2011 really is big news for the struggling recorded music industry. Or is it? Physical albums continued to decline compared to the same period in 2010, but digital album and track purchases thru May 8th went up 16.8% percent and 9.6% respectively. (Click on image to enlarge.) Digital retailers received more than half of all music transactions, propelling a 12.4% growth in sales over last year. What drove the growth?

Catalog album sales are up 5.4% in 2011, thanks in part to the 2010 deal allowing digital distribution of The Beatles. Catalog growth is hard to sustain. Then there's the major release cycle.  Exactly how it skewed sales figures, is also hard to measure.

Other trends reported by Nielsen include:

  • Vinyl sales increased 37% in the beginning of 2011 over the same period last year.  Vinyl sales also rose 14.2% in 2010, although they only accounted for 1.2% of physical sales.
  • 2011 saw the most successful Record Store Day in the event’s four-year history. Album sales at independent record stores increased over 39% the week of Record Store Day (April 16) from the prior week – an increase of 180,000 units – and 12.7% compared to 2010.
  • Rock is the most popular genre of music, with a 32% album share, while pop music represents 40% of all current digital tracks sold.
  • Ninety-three of the 100 best selling vinyl albums in 2011 fall within the Rock or Alternative genres.

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