Eleven Years of Album Sales

UPDATE: Here’s the 2021 data.

There have been lots of updates, additions, and corrections. This page has old info.

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Doh!Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2010: 326.2 million

2009: 373.9 million

2008: 428.4 million

2007: 500.5 million

2006: 542.4 588.2 million [Corrected 10/30/2017. -ed.]

2005: 618.9 million

2004: 667 million

2003: 687 million

2002: 681 million

2001: 763 million

2000: 785 million

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

Here’s a little more data…

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

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

Compact Discs

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

Digital tracks

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)

13 thoughts on “Eleven Years of Album Sales”

  1. Go into Best Buy and look for stereo equipment. I don’t think anyone is expecting this to rebound. I know a guy who listens to all his music on YouTube

  2. You know what pisses me off about this the most? 239.9 million CD’s is still a lot of fucking CD’s. It seems that if somebody in the record industry wasn’t retarded it would be able to make some money off that number. I’m curious how many physical albums, be they lp’s or cassettes or whatever, were sold back in the 60s/70s/80s/90s.

  3. It’s not that they’re not making any money, it’s that the industry is contracting. Now, I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing, but it’s clearly happening.

  4. Holy sheet, that’s an incredible drop in CD sales! Way over 50%. I’m still buying a lot of CDs though, and only buy online if it’s an emergency (must… listen… to that song… right now.). And now that I have my turntable fixed, I’lll probably start buying vinyl again, too. I don’t see that changing. I’m still interest in the physical product as part of the purchase. But, man, that’s an incredible drop.

  5. what I’d like to see is what the total industry revenue is in dollars over the past decade (music sales + ticket sales).

  6. when you add track equiv albums to CD sales the total is almost the same.

    What makes no sense to me is how the industry hasn’t at least stayed whole. Distribution of digital music is cheap. There’s no factory making discs. No packaging. No shipping. No store overhead. etc. etc.

    I venture to guess that if you add concert ticket prices to music sales it’s not that far off from where revenue was a decade ago.

  7. Scott, the track equivalent albums = album sales + (tracks / 10). So in the case of 2010, you don’t add 443.4 million to

    326.2 million. You take the 1.17 billion tracks, divide it by 10 (117 million), and add that to the album downloads (326.2 million) to get a total of 443.4 million.

  8. Here’s something on revenue from last year:

    Total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to Forrester Research. In 1999, that revenue figure topped $14.6 billion.

    I can’t find any old numbers for the concert biz. But touring numbers are down, too, according to Billboard:

    In North America, which seems to have born the brunt of a tough year, the numbers showed a similar slide: $2.1 billion in grosses from 11,555 shows that drew 38 million people were reported, down 26% in gross, 24.4% in attendance and 15.8% in the number of shows.

    If you can find any data on total concert grosses from ten years ago, that would be interesting.

  9. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the effect the overall economy is having on this. Personally, I bought less music this past year than in any year I can remember. Concertwise, I did not attend a single show in 2010. Not one. Just can’t afford a night out these days. If my economic situation changes, I’m sure I’ll buy more music and get out to some shows. Anyone else feeling the pinch?

  10. I still think that aside from the common reasons for the decline in sales (“file sharing”, etc.) the casual music fan stopped buying music.

    jaimoe0: I’m feeling the same economic pinch as you. Actually, worse: I bought no new music and the only “name” show I went to this year was a NOLA tribute featuring Dr. John, Irma Thomas, and Ivan Neville, with Trombone Shorty as musical director. (Needless to say, it was awesome. And I only went due to the graciousness of a good friend who had an extra ticket.) I did happen to catch Freedy Johnston when my band opened for him in April; does that count?

  11. Found some concert data from 2000 (Thanks, Jonas!):

    More than $1.6 billion in concert grosses were reported to Billboard sister publication Amusement Business (AB), up from just under $1.3 billion last year [1999]. This [2000] is the fourth consecutive year that the overall gross has topped $1 billion.

    So music sales have plunged from $14.6 billion in 1999 to $6.3 billion in 2009, and concert grosses went up from $1.3 billion in 1999 to $2.1 billion in 2010.

    So yeah, if my math is correct the $800 million increase in concert grosses doesn’t come even close to the $8.3 billion decrease in music sales. Craziness.

    Of course, $6.3 billion is still a lot of money…

  12. Whether this comparison is relevant is up for discussion, but I thought I’d mention Major League Baseball is also in the $6B range.

  13. Well, I’d say it’s clear to see that the demand is shifting to the purchase of Online/Digital Purchases. Rather than Storage Media purchases such as CD’s, DVD’s,

    I mean who would have thunk it? Being as most peoples players in their iPhone, Android these days…

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