Thursday, July 3, 2008

Music Downloads Rise While Physical Recording Sales Dip

Some future researcher, pouring through Yahoo!'s old files, may be very amused that I made a big deal about a digital album reaching a measly 354,000 copies or an individual song hitting a mere 4 million downloads. I hope so.

-Paul Grein, Yahoo Chartwatch columnist

In Paul Grein, "Week Ending June 29, 2008: Viva La Download Or Death And All His CDs," Yahoo Chartwatch, July 2, 2008

In just two weeks, Coldplay's Viva La Vida has sold more downloads than any album in digital history. The old record was held by John Mayer's Continuum. Viva La Vida sold 66,000 downloads this week, bringing its two-week total to 354,000. Continuum has sold 353,000 downloads since its release in September 2006. "The paid digital download medium scarcely existed five years ago and now it's the biggest growth area in the music business. (It may be the only growth area in the music business.)"

Despite their strong growth, of online music sales still relatively small compared to sales of physicla recordings. They may, however, portend a long-term trend. In the meantime, the slowdown in music sales continues. Just three albums topped 1 million copies in sales (CDs and digital downloads combined) in the first six months of 2008, the lowest total since Nielsen/SoundScan set up shop in 1991. By contrast, six albums sold 1 million copies in the first six months of 2007. Fully 16 albums hit the million mark in the first half of 2006. "The business hit its peak in 2001 when a whopping 37 albums reached the 1 million mark in the first 26 weeks of the year."

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