Album Sales In America Just Hit An All-Time Low

U.S. album sales hit 3.97-million last week, the smallest weekly total for album sales since Nielsen SoundScan first began tracking data in 1991, Billboard’s Ed Christman and Glenn Peoples report.

It’s also the first time during that period that weekly sales have fallen below 4 million, they write.

Sales for the week ending August 25 fell 18.6%. The best seller was rapper Whiz Khalifa’s “Blacc Hollywood” which debuted with 90,000 units, Billboard says. For the first time in more than a year, sales for the soundtrack to Disney’s “Frozen” fell below 100,000 units.

CD sales have practically vanished, down 19.2% year-over-year, with sales at mass merchants and chains down mass merchants and chains have fallen 23 per cent and 25.6 per cent, respectively.

And even digital sales are faltering, with digital album sales off 11.7% and track sales down 12.8%.

“This year the bottom fell out of digital sales to a degree that we never anticipated, which is why many companies are not meeting this year’s revenue projections,” one indie distribution executive told Billboard.

Revenue from streaming has not been able to compensate. Although streaming sales climbed 39% in 2013 and now make up a fifth of the marketplace according to MusicWeek, as ReCode’s Peter Kafka recently observed, lots of people are still freeriding on music streaming platforms.

“The problem for the music business is that most music streamers — around 80 per cent of them — are free music streamers, relying on services like YouTube, Pandora and SoundCloud for the tunes, says Midia Research,” he writes. “And those ad-supported businesses generate about 10 per cent of the revenue per user that subscription businesses do.”

Here’s Midia’s chart:

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