2011 music sales strike upward note

Soundscan reports 5% increase for the year

Moving into the holiday gift-buying season, total music sales were up 5.1% through the end of October, according to figures released Thursday by Nielsen SoundScan.

During a Web seminar presentation by NARM, SoundScan senior veep of entertainment analysis David Bakula said total music sales through Oct. 30 climbed to 353 million units, vs. 336 million in 2010.

Overall album sales were up 3% over last year, with 249 million albums sold versus 242 million last year.

Digital album sales boomed 19.7% to 81 million, but physical album sales continued to decline, dropping 3.5%, with 168 million sold this year. However, Bakula noted that the drop in CD sales has abated somewhat, following 2010’s precipitous 20% decline.

Current album sales slipped 1.7% through the end of October, but catalog sales showed a marked increase, with overall catalog boosted 9.1% and deep catalog up 12.5%.

Vinyl sales were still projected to rise 30% in 2011, though the format accounts for just 1.6% of overall sales. Bakula noted that the configuration is the lifeblood of indie stores, which sells exclusive vinyl pieces on Record Store Day and the post-Thanksgiving Back to Black Friday.

Sales in the traditional retail space continued to erode. Specialty music chains were off 10% (with the closure of Borders having some undoubted impact), independent stores fell 9.3%, mass merchants were down 3.2% and non-traditional retailers such as Starbucks dropped 21.8%.

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