The following news might come as a mild shock or a pleasant surprise for some.
A year-in-review report from Nielsen Soundscan and Billboard suggests that sales of digital music files continued to climb in 2012, while sales of physical copies, like compact discs for example, continued to dwindle. Nothing to gush over so far, but here's the rub. Vinyl albums, on the other hand, experienced an increase in sales figures.
In 2012, music purchases totaled 1.65 billion units in all, a rise of 3.1 percent over 2011. These purchases include physical albums, digital albums, and digital songs. Expectedly, physical music continued its yearly decline, with sales down by 12.8 percent. Despite this abatement, however, physical albums remained as the dominant format for music purchases in the past year.
"Digital album sales are up 14.1% and digital track sales are up 5.1%, but despite being down 12.8%, physical is still the dominant album format", said David Bakula, SVP Client Development, Nielsen.
Interestingly, vinyl albums were blessed with positive sales growth in 2012, with a 17.7 percent increase in sales. That's a total of 4.6 million records sold. According to the report, interest in the almost defunct format was aided by global Record Store Day celebrations and a dedicated fan base. Another point of interest is that 67 percent of these vinyl records were purchased through independent music shops, not mega chain stores. And topping the best selling vinyl album chart is Jack White's "Blunderbuss", with 34,000 copies sold.
On the whole, Adele's "21" secured the best selling album title in 2012, followed by Taylor Swift's "Red". Adele is also the first recording artist to wear the best selling album crown for two years in a row, with 4.4 million records sold in America alone.