Recorded Sales Bath Continues, Fresh Figures Detail Decline

Album sales continued to slide in the United States during the latest quarter, according to figures recently released by Nielsen Soundscan.

Earlier, Soundscan outlined a 16.6 percent downfall during the first three months of this year.  The latest data, released late last week, displayed a 15.1 percent drop for the first half.  The figures largely erase thoughts of a temporary nosedive in the recorded music sector, and complement just-released global sales data from label organization IFPI.

The IFPI figures calculated a softer 7.5 percent decline year-to-date in the United States, and also pointed to concomitant slides in markets like the UK and Australia.  The latest US-based report from Nielsen counted nearly 230 million album sales through June, far less than comparable, year-ago totals of roughly 271 million.

During the first half, digital sales continued to show growth, though most regard an eventual offset of physical declines as hopeful.  For the period, paid downloads crossed 417.3 million units, a jump of 48.5 percent.  That rate is certainly aggressive, though it represents a softened pace from one year ago. During the first half of 2006, digital sales surged 77 percent to 281 million, though absolute sales gains were smaller.

Meanwhile, Universal Music Group once again grabbed the largest market share.  Universal scored a 31.6 percent share, easily outpacing second-place Sony BMG by more than 6 percentage points.  Warner Music Group pulled a 20 percent share during the period, while independents collectively earned 12.9 percent, according to the data.  EMI dragged with a 10.3 percent share.