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Downloads exceed US physical music sales in 2011

A report commissioned by Nielsen and Billboard shows that downloads accounted for 50.3 per cent of US music sales last year.

Adele was by far the biggest-selling artist in the US last year.
Adele was by far the biggest-selling artist in the US last year.
Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire

THE VOLUME of music sales sold through downloading in the United States last year was, for the first time, greater than the amount sold in hard copy.

A report commissioned by audience research firm Nielsen and chart publisher Billboard found that downloads accounted for 50.3 per cent of all music sold in the US in 2011, according to CNN.

While the sale of physical albums slumped by 5 per cent, digital sales were up by over 8 per cent to ensure that overall aggregate sales were slightly up on 2010 – the first time since 2004 that sales have grown.

As with many of the world’s charts, Adele was easily the highest-selling act, with her album 21 topping both the physical and download charts with 5.82 million sales.

It defeated Michael Buble’s Christmas album (2.45 million sales) and Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ (2.1 million).

Her single ‘Rolling in the Deep’ scored almost as many sales – making it the most-sold song of the year, ahead of LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’ (5.47 million) and Katy Perry’s ‘E.T.’ (4.83 million).

Perhaps unexpectedly, however, the sale of vinyl records continues to rise – and has now increase for the fourth consecutive year. 3.9 million vinyl LPs were sold in the States last year, up from 2.8 million (a previous record) in 2010.

IRMA produces similar annual stats relating to the Irish charts, but has not yet released its 2011 data.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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