Is the year-over-year album decline getting better, at least in the US?
In 2008, the drop was 14 percent, on a unit decline of 72.1 million units. In 2009, the decline was 12.7 percent, on a decline of 54.5 million units.
Sounds like slower bleeding, though in reality, the past ten years have been an absolute bloodbath for the recording industry. In 2000, album sales peaked at 943 million units, only to crash more than 60 percent to roughly 374 units in 2009.
Of course, digital albums – and a myriad of other formats – have charged onto the scene since 2000, though not enough to stem the bleeding on physical.
And, perhaps fittingly, the industry lost one of its biggest superstars as the decade closed. The death of Michael Jackson was a tough loss for many fans, but from a purely financial perspective, the incident offered a big album sales boost. In 2009, Jackson shifted 8.2 million albums in the United States alone, according to details shared by Nielsen Soundscan. Without that boost, the year-over-year decline would have been 62.7 million units, a 14.6 percent drop, and the one-time gain raises more questions about 2010 and beyond.