July Already? Album Sales Keep Sinking In ’08

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Album sales in the United States took a serious bath during the first half of this year, according to figures supplied by Nielsen Soundscan.

Aggregated physical and digital albums dropped a significant 11 percent during the period, another discouraging data point for a beleaguered business.  In total, the recording industry shifted 204.6 million units during the first half, down from 229.8 million during the comparable, year-ago period.

Within that figure, the digital story continued to grow, though gains failed to cover massive physical declines.  In the six-month period, digital album sales climbed 34 percent to 31.6 million units, or 15.5 percent of overall album totals.  The disparity has become a disappointing development for an industry expecting a more substantial digital contribution.

Elsewhere, an important discrepancy related to a-la-carte downloads emerged.  According to Soundscan, digital tracks moved upward 30 percent to 524.7 million units, from 399 million previously.  But Apple recently reported sales of well past one billion during the period.

Perhaps the most interesting footnote came from vinyl, which surged during the first half.  According to the data, vinyl sales moved nearly 77 percent to 803,000, from 454,000 previously.

Overall album sales sank 15 percent last year.

Story by news analyst Alexandra Osorio.