Rock Ruled Music In 2008: Biggest Sellers Revealed

(antiMusic) The Nielsen Company sent over their year end SoundScan report for 2008 and there were some very interesting results. You know how the music biz keeps crying that the sky is falling? In reality music sales continue to grow and 2008 set a new record. Overall music sales increased over 10% in 2008 to over 1.5 billion.

Overall album sales on the other hand dropped -8.5% to 535.4 million while digital album sales soared 32% to 65.8 million units sold in 2008. While the digital future keeps growing, old school vinyl is making a major resurgence and jumped 89% last year to 1.88 million LPs sold.

Before we get into the top selling artists etc, an interesting side note: while MTV and their assorted channels, radio, and the labels seem to focus a lot of their energy on rap, R&B and country, it appears that alternative, rock and metal are far more popular with record buyers. Rap took a nose dive of almost 20% in 2008 with sales of 33,410 million units, compare that to the 50,476 million metal albums sold. R&B which dominates Top 40 radio only managed sales of 77,014 million (a drop of almost 20% from 2007). Country music was the worst hit in sales decline, falling 24% in 2008 to end up BEHIND metal in sales at 47,657 million. While all genres saw a drop in sales in 2008, it was the rock related ones that declined the least. Alternative CD sales fell -8.7% with 80,919 million units sold. Rock declined -6.5% with 139,666 units sold (interesting almost twice as much as R&B. MTV pay attention to why your ratings are dropping) and metal saw the smallest decline in sales with only a -4.7% drop in 2008.

Who were the biggest sellers of 2008? Taylor Swift came out on top with 4,003,000 units sold. AC/DC roared back in 2008 coming in at No. 2 with sales of 3,418,000. Lil Wayne was 3 with 3,382,000. Coldplay came in fourth with 2,691,000. Metallica was fifth with 2,466,000 with Kid Rock just behind them with 2,405,000 albums sold last year. The rest of the top 10 looked like this:
7. Jonas Brothers (2,340,000)
8. Sugarland (2,063,000)
9. Nickelback (1,953,000) 1
0. Jack Johnson (1,895,000).

Did someone say vinyl sales almost doubled? Here is how the top 10 vinyl albums sales ended up in 2008:
1. In Rainbows/ Radiohead
2. Abbey Road / Beatles
3. Chinese Democracy / Guns N' Roses
4. Funplex/ B-52's
5. Third/ Portished
6. In the Aeroplane… /Neutral Milk Hotel
7. Dark Side of the Moon/ Pink Floyd
8. Fleet Foxes/ Fleet Foxes
9. Death Magnetic/ Metallica
10. O.K. Computer/ Radiohead

The Nielsen Company included these interesting facts in their report:

• Music purchases in 2008 reached 1.5 Billion, marking the fourth consecutive year music sales have exceeded 1 billion; 1.4 billion (2007) vs. 1.2 billion (2006) vs. 1 billion (2005).
• Music sales exceeded 65 million in the final week of 2008, representing the biggest sales week in the history of Nielsen SoundScan. The previous record was Christmas week 2007 with 58.4 million music purchases.
• Overall Album sales (including Albums and Track Equivalent Album sales) declined 8.5% compared to 2007.
• Total Album sales declined 14% compared to 2007.
• Metallica's "Death Magnetic" is the best selling Internet album for the year with 144,000 sales.
• During 2008, more Vinyl Albums were purchased (1.88 million) than any other year in the history of Nielsen SoundScan. The previous record was in 2000, with 1.5 million LP album sales.
Note that more than 2 out of every 3 vinyl albums were purchased at an independent music store during the year.

Digital Factoids:
• Digital Track sales break the 1 BILLION sales mark for the first time with more than 1,070,000 digital track sales. The previous record was 844 million digital track purchases during 2007; an increase of 27% over 2007.
• Digital Album sales reached an all-time high with more than 65 million sales in 2008; up from 50 million in 2007; an increase of 32% over the previous year.
Note that digital album sales account for 15% of total album sales compared to 10% in 2007 and 5.5% in 2006.
• In the final reporting week of 2008 the following digital sales records were broken:
Digital Track sales surpassed 47.7 million. The previous sales record was 42.9 million, week of 12/23 -12/30/07.
Digital Album sales this week broke the two million mark for the first time with sales of 2.4 million sales; breaking the previous record of 1.9 million (12/30/07).
The top 200 digital songs for the week Posted an all-time high with 13.6 million sales; breaking the previous record of 11.9 million during the last week of 2007.
The first time that the Top 5 digital songs (combining all versions of the same song) sold more than 300,000 downloads in a week with Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" selling 419,000. The record for most downloads for a digital song in one week continues to be Flo Rida's "Low" with sales of 467,000 set during the last week of 2007.
• 2008 is the first time a digital song broke the 3 million sales mark in a single year. There were 2 songs that achieved this milestone; Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" and Lil Wayne's "Lollipop;" with sales of 3.4 and 3.2 million respectively.
• In 2008, there are 19 different digital songs with sales that exceeded 2 million compared to 9 in 2007.
• 71 Digital Songs exceed the 1 million sales mark for the year compared to 41 digital songs in 2007, 22 in 2006, and only 2 digital songs in 2005.
• Rihanna is the biggest selling digital artist in 2008 with nearly 10 million track sales compared to Fergie in 2007 who had 7.5 million track sales.
• There are more than 450,000 different physical albums that sold at least one copy over the Internet during 2008 compared to 390,000 in 2007.

Best Seller Factoids:
• Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III is the biggest selling album of the year with 2.8 million sales.
• Taylor Swift is the biggest selling solo artist, with sales greater than 4.0 million albums and AC/DC is the biggest selling group in 2008 with sales of 3.4 million.
Taylor Swift stands at the top of the list, marking the 2nd time in the last three years that a country artist is the top selling artist for the year. Rascal Flatts was the biggest selling artist in 2006 with 5 million sales. Josh Groban took the honors last year (2007) with 4.8 million sales.
• Taylor Swift's Fearless and her self-titled album finished the year at #3 and #6 respectively with sales of 2.1 and 1.5 million. This is the first time in the history of Nielsen SoundScan one artist had two different albums in the Top 10 on the year end album chart

Holiday SeasonFactoids: (last 6 weeks of year).
• Overall Album sales during the 2008 holiday season were down 19% compared to 2007, with sales of just over 80 million.
• Album sales during the holiday season accounted for 19% of all album sales for the year.
• Digital Album sales during the holiday season experienced significant growth over 2007 with an increase of 37% to 9.9 million sales.

Strata Factoids:
• Album sales at Non-Traditional music outlets (digital, internet, mail order, venue, non-traditional retailers) hit an all-time high in 2008 with sales breaking the 100 million mark for the first time. Non-Traditional is the only strata that experienced album growth over the previous year; with an increase of 15% over 2007.
Non-traditional outlets account for nearly 25% of all album sales, compared to 18% in 2007, 12% in 2006, 9% in 2005 and 5% in 2004 (4% in 2003).
Digital services account for 65% of the Non-Traditional album sales.
• The last two weeks of the year produced the two biggest album sales weeks for Non-Traditional outlets; 3.3 and 3.2 million sales.
• The percentage of album sales at mass merchants declined for the second straight year after experiencing year over year growth from 2002 – 2006. In 2008, 37% of all albums purchased were at a Mass Merchant outlet compared to 40% in 2007, 41% in 2006, 40% in 2005.
• Chain music stores account for 33% of all album sales in 2008; compared to 36% in 2007; 41% in 2006, 45% in 2005 and 48% in 2004.
• Album sales at Independent music stores account for 7% of all album sales; up 1 point from a year ago (6% in 2007 and 2006, 7% in 2005 and 9% in 2004).

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