Music sales continued their free-fall during the first six months of 2014, as both albums and digital downloads again showed double-digit losses.
According to Nielsen SoundScan data released Wednesday for the year to date through June 29, total album sales in all formats plunged nearly 15%, with sales of almost 121 million, versus 142 million sold in the first six months of 2013.
To put the steepness of the decline in perspective: Just 18 months ago, Adele’s Grammy-winning “21” – the bestselling album of 2011 and 2012 — finished the latter year with sales in excess of 10 million. It is conceivable that such a phenomenon will not be seen in the industry again.
Digital track sales dropped 13% to 593.6 million, in comparison to 682.2 million moved in the same period last year.
On-demand streaming continued to boom, soaring 42% to almost 70.3 million streams (compared to 49.5 million in the same period last year). However, revenues derived from streaming are a fraction of those derived from physical and digital album sales on a per-unit basis.
Once again, vinyl albums showed a potent gain, up more than 40% to 4 million units (compared to 2.9 million in the first half of 2013), though the format remains a sliver of the industry’s overall business. Jack White’s “Lazaretto,” which was issued in a special holographic LP edition, was the bestselling title at 49,000 units. [read]