Skip to content

Music sales down 14%, digital track sales up 27%

eMarketer just published some data on US music industry sales from a Nielsen press release. The catalyst was Apple’s overdue announcement that it is shifting to a DRM-free model.

Overall album sales are declining by 14%. Some of this is the economy, but most of it is a continuation of a trend that has been developing for a while. CD sales were down 20% in 2007, and so this year’s numbers don’t come as a surprise to anyone.

Also not surprising is that physical sales of current (i.e. recent) albums are declining twice as fast as catalog (i.e. less recent) albums. I suspect this is a function of demographics, with young people going digital faster than older people. In the digital world, the picture is reversed. Digital sales of catalog albums are growing faster than digital sales of current albums. This, I suspect, is due to higher levels of piracy among young people.

What is somewhat surprising is that digital album sales are up (+32%) even more than digital track sales (+27%). There are a bunch of reasons why this might be true, but maybe (hopefully?) it suggests that the death of the album (snack-o-tainment) might have been prematurely reported.