2011-adele-gaga

12 Years of Album Sales: 2011 Year-End Soundscan Data

Update: The 2012 data has been released. View it here.

The big news is that total albums sales actually went up a little for the first time since 2004. Of course, considering the fact that physical CD sales slid another 6% and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way sold a million copies for 99 cents, you can be sure that total album revenue is still way, way down this year.

But hey, folks bought 3.9 million vinyl albums in 2011! And check this out: “67% of all vinyl albums sold in 2011 were purchased at an independent music store and nearly 3 out of every 4 vinyl LPs bought were a rock album.” So: hooray for our side!

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2011: 330.57 million
2010: 326.15 million
2009: 373.9 million
2008: 428.4 million
2007: 500.5 million
2006: 542.4 million
2005: 618.9 million
2004: 667 million
2003: 687 million
2002: 681 million
2001: 763 million
2000: 785 million
1999: 754.8 million
1998: 711 million
1997: 651.8 million
1996: 616.6 million

Compact Discs

2011: 223.5 million
2010: 239.9 million
2009: 294.9 million
2008: 360.6 million
2007: 449.2 million
2006: 553.4 million
2005: 598.9 million
2004: 651.1 million
2003: 635.8 million
2002: 649.5 million
2001: 712.0 million
2000: 730.0 million
1999: 648.1 million
1998: ~578 million
1997: 504.6 million
1996: 448.4 million

Track equivalent albums (where 10 track downloads equal one album)

2011: 457.7 million
2010: 443.4 million
2009: 489.8 million
2008: 535.4 million
2007: 585 million
2006: 646.3 million
2005: 654.1 million
2004: 680.7 million

Digital Albums

2011: 103.1 million
2010: 86.3 million
2009: 76.4 million
2008: 65.8 million
2007: 50 million
2006: 16.2 million
2005: 5.5 million

Vinyl albums

2011: 3.9 million
2010: 2.8 million
2009: 2.5 million
2008: 1.88 million
2007: 990,000
2006: 858,000

2000: 1.5 million

Cassette albums

2009: 34,000

2007: 274,000

2004: 8.6 million

2002: 29.8 million
2001: 49.4 million
2000: 77.2 million
1999: 105.5 million
1998: ~130.8 million
1997: 146 million
1996: 166.7 million

Digital tracks

2011: 1.27 billion
2010: 1.17 billion
2009: 1.16 billion
2008: 1.07 billion
2007: 844.1 million
2006: 582 million
2005: 353 million
2004: 141 million
2003: 19.2 million (SoundScan monitored them only during the year’s second half)

Current vs. Catalog

1999: 66.4% vs 33.6
1998: 64% vs 36%
1997: 59.9% vs 40.1%

Sources: Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, USA Today, Computer World, New York Times, Hollywood Reporter, CTV, BBC, WSJ, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Billboard, Pitchfork.

11 thoughts on “12 Years of Album Sales: 2011 Year-End Soundscan Data”

  1. I got back into vinyl this year, so I guess I’m part of the bump in LP sales (picking up my all-time favourites on vinyl, plus a few new releases). From this point forward, I’ll probably look for new releases on vinyl first, CD second, as long as the plastic version comes with a download code.

    Not sure how it’s only 2/3 of vinyl being sold at indie record shops. Around here I haven’t seen a chain store sell LPs since the mid-80s. Best Buy and Wallymart don’t sell vinyl (hell, they don’t even have indie rock CDs), and I thought Tower et al were kaput. Who’s selling the other 1/3 of vinyl – Amazon? Mail-order from Amoeba?

    100% of my vinyl comes from indie shops, but basically I have no other choice. Prices are a little steep, but it’s made music collecting fun again.

  2. Hey, Great stats, I’m trying to figure out how much out of 330 is digital and physical. But if I subtract Compact disc number from 2011 value their is a gap of 5 million. Please help me.

  3. 2011: 223.5 million (CDs) + 103.1 million (Digital albums) + 3.9 million (Vinyl albums) = 330.5 million (Total Album Sales)

  4. These statistics are garbage. They don’t even account for such physical sales as cassettes and mini-discs. Get it right next time.

  5. What is the difference between these two:
    223.5 million (CDs) + 103.1 million (Digital albums)
    A CD IS a digital album, or?
    And what does “physical” means = cassettes + vinyl + CDs, = all(?) you can touch?
    But why then the differentiation: “(physical + digital albums)” when CDs are both: physical AND digital.

    In other words, the statistics could have been made a bit more logical. And for us better understandable. Also, again: For WHICH territory is it made???

    The world is big and full of mysteries.
    :-)

  6. These figures represent U.S. sales as reported by Nielsen SoundScan in Billboard and other news sources. “Digital album” refers to an album download. “Physical” = CDs, vinyl, and cassette.

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