Despite RIAA, Digital Music Sales Still Growing

Author: James Burchill
Published: May 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm

While artists like Jon Bon Jovi and Metallica are bemoaning the advance of music sales in digital form as singles and collections and the slow dying out of compact disc and full album sales, the market (meaning buyers) are continuing to change the industry. The Recording Industry and Artists Association continues to aggressively prosecute piracy as well, but this has done little to dissuade the digital music format to skyrocket.

New numbers from the Nielson Company (no relation to Willie) show a 1.6% growth rate for digital music sales since the beginning of this year. While that doesn't sound like much, it means a 17% growth year-on-year for 2010-2011.

Nielsen numbers breakdown

Looking at the numbers individually, we see a lot of growth in digital and a decline in physical albums (with the exception of vinyl, which has seen a boost thanks to collectors and special editions). For year-on-year 2010-11, digital albums rose in sales by 16.8% while individual track sales jumped 9.6%. More than half of all of the digital sales were through digital retailers (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and not record stores. Overall, digital music retailers saw a 12.4% increase last year.

The majority of downloaded music is sold in the genres of rock and pop (32% and 40% respectively), which makes sense since these are the genres most popular amongst the digital generations.

Trending this over time

These year-on-year changes are continuing from gains in the past five years. Digital music has quickly been gaining double-digit increases in sales and market shares for the past four or five years while physical albums (CDs, vinyl, etc.) are on the decline. Vinyl's recent uptick is largely due to a lot of older bands re-releasing old albums on record or releasing new material exclusively on record. Overall, vinyl sales are generally steady as a collector's only market.

Continued on the next page

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Article Author: James Burchill

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