In what is apparently supposed to be surprising news, physical album sales are down, again, in 2012. According to Nielsen SoundScan (via Billboard), CD sales are down 4.4% from 151.6 million units at this time last year to a paltry 129.7 million units. Industry darling Adele, with an album that came out nearly two years ago, still holds the number one spot for the year with roughly four million copies of her album 21 sold during the 2012 calendar year. Your new favorite boy band, One Direction, and Nicole Richie’s dad round out the top three with 1.25 million and 1.02 million CDs sold, respectively, of their latest efforts.
In other news surprising to no one under the age of 50, digital album sales continue to increase and rose 15.3% to 85.5 million units sold. Our corporate overlords also managed to move over a billion (with a “b”) digital track sales this year. Vinyl LP sales are up too — about 16.7% to 3.2 million albums scanned over the past nine months (you can thank the 19-year-old chatting your ear off about how awesome his brand new Kid A 2 x 10-inch sounds for that).
So what does this mean? Apparently, people still buy music from major retailers. There aren’t a lot of them (music buyers or major retailers for that matter) but they still exist. It should be noted that many independent labels and record stores do not participate in the Nielsen SoundScan service, and as it is a subscription service, you sort of have to take theirs and Billboard’s word on these figures.
I guess it also reinforces the notion that the days where an album with a butt joke for a title could sell over a million copies in a week are long gone.
Also, the sky is still blue.