The news goes from bad to worse for the record industry as album sales continued to decline for the first half of 2009.
Any remaining illusion that digital album sales will even remotely make up for sagging physical CD sales was completely obliterated by the stats that showed slower than expected growth in the online space.
As first reported in Billboard, U.S. sales of physical CDs, digital CDs and track-equivalent albums (the awkward term where 10 sold tracks from one album equal an album sale) for the first six months of 2009 tallied 235.8 million units for a decline of 8.9% over the same period in 2008.
Additionally, CD sales in the second quarter of 2009 dropped 22.3%, a stronger fall than that of the first quarter.
Digital sales are not picking up the slack, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Digital album sales increased 18.9% over the corresponding time period for the first six months of 2008. However, that rate is slackening. For example, digital album sales grew 32.7% during the second quarter of 2008.
The top seller so far for 2009 is, no surprise, Taylor Swift. “Fearless,” which came out in November 2008, has sold 1.3 million copies since Jan. 1. The only other CDs to shift more than a million units in the first half of 2009 are the soundtrack to “Hannah Montana: the Movie” and Eminem’s “The Relapse.”
Even sales of digital singles are starting to slow. While sales of digital tracks increased 13 % for the first half of 2009 over the same period of 2008, that increase is down markedly from the 30% growth experienced during the first half of 2008.