Could It Be? Album Sales Up for First Time in 7 Years, Says Nielsen

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Just as the year hits the halfway mark and Spotify announces a bid to extend its stream-all-you-want music service to the U.S., media research firm Nielsen releases rare positive news about the number of albums sold so far in 2011:

Music sales for the first half of this year rose 8.5% over the same period last year, according to a report by Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks unit sales. Album sales, in particular, eked out a 1% gain, the first increase in seven years. Here's a rough breakdown of the categories:
  • Digital Track Sales +11%
  • Digital Album Sales +19%
  • Vinyl Albums +41%
  • All albums (including digital and physical) +1%

Sales were fueled by Adele's "21" album, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," and Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More."

It's unclear if the increase in unit sales translated to a bump in dollar sales, which SoundScan does not track. Lady Gaga, for example, has sold 1.5 million copies of "Born This Way," but some of those were purchased for 99 cents from an Amazon.com promotion. The album normally sells for $7.99 for a digital download or $15.99 for a physical CD.

Still, the uptick in album sales, the first since 2004, is seen as progress for an industry that's struggling to find ways to get consumers to pay for music rather than download free, pirated copies from file-sharing services.


Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times.

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Spencer Kornhaber is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he edits the Entertainment channel. More

Before coming to The Atlantic, he worked as an editor for AOL's Patch.com and as a staff writer at Village Voice Media's OC Weekly. He has also written for Spin, The AV Club, RollingStone.com, Field & Stream, and The Orange County Register.

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