Retail & Vinyl

SoundScan Mid-Year Report Shows Album Sales Down 3.2%, Digital Sales Up 13.8%


According to Nielsen SoundScan’s mid-year report, album sales (CD + digital) have dropped 3.2% during the first six months of 2012 to 150.5 million units from 155.5 million a year ago. CD sales declined 15.1% in the second quarter of 2012 to 42.6 million units, compared to 51.4 million a year ago. Meanwhile, digital album sales have seen a jump of 13.8% to 57.2 million units in the first six months of 2012, from 50.3 million a year ago.

The growth of individual track download sales has slowed during the first six months of 2012 compared to 2011, growing only 5.6% to 698 million. This is a considerable drop from the 10.6% increase during the first half of 2011, which saw scans of 660.8 million from 597.4 million units during the first six months of 2010.

Without question, a large contribution of physical scans has come from Adele's "21," which has seen 9.5 million U.S. scans since its release in January of 2011 and coming off a second resurgence after a huge night at the Grammy Awards back in February. In fact, the #1 selling album of 2012 so far has been Adele's "21" with 3.67 million units. 

As far as digital singles go, both Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" and fun.'s "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae) surpassed the 5 million mark with scans of 5.5 million and 5.1 milion units respectively. 

More details available here (via

Hisham Dahud is a Senior Analyst for Additionally, he is the head of Business Development for Fame House, LLC and an independent musician. Follow him on Twitter: @HishamDahud

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  1. Gack!! The Billboard report has been mis-paraphrased. The Billboard report says that “album” sales, where album = CD + digital album lump (LPs probably don’t really register) declined 3.2%.
    Digital album sales are up, but a nearly 12% decline in physical CDs drags down the whole “album” count.
    (*sigh*) Picky picky picky, I know.

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