updated 11:20 pm EDT, Wed July 6, 2011
Nielsen sees first recovery in US music in 7 years
Nielsen SoundScan on Wednesday reported the first increase in American album sales since 2004. Total album sales in the US for the first half of 2011 were up one percent year-to-year to hit 155.5 million. Pure digital sales were growing faster at 660 million individual tracks, up 10 percent, and 221.5 million album equivalents, a boost of 3.6 percent.
The increase is slight but points to the music industry turning the corner and reducing its dependency on CDs. In the past, digital hasn't been enough to offset slumping CD sales and has led to labels often being hesitant to fully support online music stores.
RIAA members have often used the continued drop as a pretext for trying to codify their views on piracy into US law or otherwise negotiating deals. Along with pushing for international treaties, they have collaborated with ISPs on response policies that would punish Internet account holders for any piracy detected on their connections. Opponents have noted that the systems presume guilt and that the music labels have regularly fought bringing in services like Spotify that would turn many of these pirates into legal listeners.
Some of the change has been helped by the forced closure of LimeWire, but mainstream acceptance of paid, downloaded music has been the most commonly accepted factor. iTunes currently controls about two thirds of digital music in the US and is followed by Amazon MP3. Some are expecting another boost in legal music adoption with cloud services such as Amazon Cloud Player and iTunes Match in addition to the finally acknowledged arrival of Spotify in the US. [via CNET]