By Alex HudsonIn today's struggling music market, they say that "flat is the new up." Well, we have some good news for you: North American album sales are up in the first half of this year, albeit only very slightly.
According to the latest figures from Nielsen SoundScan, album sales are up 1 percent in the first half of 2011 compared to the same period from 2010. This may sound like a small number, but it actually accounts for almost two million albums sold in the U.S. and Canada. This is the first time since 2004 that album sales have gone up.
The good news doesn't end there: overall music sales are up 8.5 percent. This is bolstered by an 11 percent rise in digital track sales, a 19 percent rise in digital album sales, and a whopping 41 percent rise in vinyl LP sales.
The year's biggest selling album so far is Adele, whose 21 shifted 2,517,000 units. The top digital track is Katy Perry and Kanye West's "E.T." with 4,120,000 sales. The top vinyl seller is a tie between the Beatles' Abbey Road and Fleet Foxes' Helplessness Blues, both with 20,200.
Bear in mind that some of these album sales come from Internet fire sales -- most notably Amazon's promotion to sell Lady Gaga's Born This Way for just 99 cents.
All told, this isn't quite enough to make up for the ever-plummeting sales of the past decade, but it's nevertheless a step in the right direction.