Published Jan 04, 2012Back in July, the upward trend of album sales seemed a little too good to be true. Well, folks, now it's official: after years of plummeting, album sales were on the rise in 2011.
In the U.S., Neilsen Soundscan reported $330.57 million units sold. That's 1% more than last year, when 326.15 million units were sold. How do we account for the increase? Well, digital album sales swelled an impressive 20% to 103.1 million units. Vinyl was also on the rise, with 3.9 million units compared to 2.8 million units last year. CD sales, meanwhile, were down by 6%.
Welsh singer Adele played a major role in the increase, as her album 21 sold 5.82 million copies, which is the biggest year for a single album since Usher's Confessions in 2004. Rounding out the top 5 this year were Michael Buble with Christmas (2.45 million units), Lady Gaga with Born This Way (2.1 million units), Lil Wayne with Tha Cartet IV (1.92 million units) and Jason Aldean with My Kinda Party.
In another triumph for Adele, her "Rolling in the Deep" had the biggest year of any digital single ever with 5.81 million downloads.
In slightly less encouraging news, the UK's Official Charts Company reports that album sales fell by 6% overall. The BBC notes that that digital downloads were up by 26%, but this wasn't enough to make up for the 13% fall in CD sales. Adele's 21 was, unsurprisingly, the most popular purchase.