Album sales through 2011… Are CDs failing us?

SoundScan data is telling us that music sales are on the rise. But it is interesting to analyse the figures by format.

You have to be careful when reading these sorts of statistics. Initially, you’d think that digital sales are outstripped absolutely every other format..

Looking at album sales, digital posted a whopping 19.5% increase to 103.1 million units from 86.3 million units. In the physical formats, CD sales decreased 5.7% to 223.5 million units from the 236.9 million units tallied in 2010.

What this doesn’t tell you is what is actually the case. This is based on total sales. In actual fact, sales of music in the “album configuration” – that is, albums as we know them – are on the rise in physical formats. People don’t want digital downloads of entire albums. They want to choose the tracks that they like, and pay for them that way. More than two-thirds of the time, physical format WINS.

On the other hand, when consumers made the decision to buy the album configuration, which means track equivalent album sales are excluded, more than two-thirds of the time (or 68.7%), they chose to purchase the physical album…

And, for all you vinyl lovers, guess what? Your purchases are being noticed. Sales of vinyl in 2011 were up 2.8 million units on vinyl sales in 2010.

The media loves to tell us that digital only is the way to go; but as I have always argued, consumer activity tells us a different story. The push towards digital is great in many ways; but what it actually does is reduce the outlay and product provision logistics for major companies, therefore saving them a whole lot of money. Be careful how you read what the media tells you.

People still want physical copies, and CDs aren’t failing us. The proof is in the consumer’s pudding.

CLICK HERE to read the entire report.

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