Album Sales Rise for First Time Since 2004

The record industry, after suffering declining sales for a decade, have been led by Lady Gaga and Adele into their first overall record sales increase since 2004. Total album sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan data, has increased by one percent during the first six months of 2011 compared to last year during that same time period. The change is fairly minor. However after years of dropping by double digit percentages, it’s a positive sign.

To date, the biggest album of the year has been “21” by Adele. Since late February when the set was released, it has sold more than 2.5 million copies. The album has consistently been a bestseller, spending 10 nonconsecutive weeks in the No. 1 spot of the albums chart and never charting below No. 3. In addition it is the top-selling digital album of the year. To date, 992,000 copies have been sold. “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele’s hit single, has sold 4.1 million digital copies. It is expected that “21” will soon be surpassing the Eminem album “Recovery” to become the all-time top-selling digital album. Gaga’s sales, in comparison, are centered around her premiere record-setting week when “Born This Way,” her latest album, had 1.1 million copies sold.

Catalog sales are also ruled by Adele. During this year’s first six months her debut album “19,” released in 2008, has sold a total of 341,000 copies and an overall sales figure of 1.2 million. In general, catalog sales account for the biggest percentage of the spike in sales in 2011. Catalog album sales increased by seven percent. Older works from recent artists like Miranda Lambert and Adele led the way, along with sets from classic acts like Credence Clearwater Revival and Journey.

The data from Nielsen SoundScan also revealed that vinyl LP sales increased 41 percent compared to the first six months of 2010. They only account for 1.9 million out of 221.5 million albums sold overall during the first half of 2011. However it is an indicator that this vinyl LPs are enjoying a resurgence that is significant.