Sales of recorded music fell sharply in 2008, as consumers continued to migrate away from the CD format, large retailers reduced floor space for music and the recession dampened consumer spending during the critical year-end holiday shopping period.
Total album sales in the United States, including CDs and full-album downloads, were 428 million, a 14 percent drop from 2007, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan. Since the industry’s peak in 2000, album sales have declined 45 percent, although digital music purchases continue to grow at a rapid rate.
The year’s biggest seller was Lil Wayne’s album “Tha Carter III” (Cash Money/Universal Motown), which sold 2.87 million copies, followed by Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends” (Capitol), with 2.14 million. “Fearless” (Big Machine), the second album by the 19-year-old country star Taylor Swift, was third, with 2.11 million. (Ms. Swift also scored the sixth-highest seller this year, for her self-titled debut, released in 2006, which sold 1.6 million copies in 2008.)The music industry has grown accustomed to dismal sales numbers, and this year even the good news comes with disappointment. “Tha Carter III” is the first release in SoundScan’s 17-year history to top the year-end list with sales of less than 3 million.
Sales of digital music continued to rise steeply last year. Just over a billion songs were downloaded, a 27 percent increase from 2007, and some record companies say they are finally beginning to wring significant profits from music on Web sites like YouTube and MySpace.
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