LOS ANGELES (AP) — Album sales in the United States plunged 9.5 percent last year from 2006, as the recording industry had another weak year despite a 45 percent surge in the sale of digital tracks, according to figures released Thursday.
A total of 500.5 million albums in the form of CDs, cassettes, LPs and other formats were purchased last year, down 15 percent from the unit total for 2006, said Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks point-of-purchase sales.
The decline in album sales drops to 9.5 percent when sales of digital singles are counted as 10-track equivalent albums.
The number of digital tracks sold, meanwhile, jumped 45 percent, to 844.2 million, compared with 588.2 million in 2006, with digital album sales accounting for 10 percent of total album purchases.
Overall music purchases, including albums, singles, digital tracks and music videos, rose to 1.35 billion units, up 14 percent from 2006.
Music sales during the last week of 2007 totaled 58.4 million units, the biggest sales week ever recorded by Nielsen SoundScan.
The recording industry has experienced declines in CD album sales for years, in part because of the rise of online file-sharing, but also because consumers have spent more of their leisure dollars on other entertainment, like DVDs and video games.
An artist with the Warner Music Group, Josh Groban, had the best-selling album, “Noël.” The album, a collection of Christmas songs, sold around 3.7 million copies.
A soundtrack for Walt Disney’s “High School Musical” franchise was second with about 2.9 million units sold.
The Eagles’ comeback album, “Long Road Out of Eden,” was third, selling about 2.6 million copies, despite being independently released and available for purchase only at Wal-Mart.
The recording industry continued to benefit from mobile music, with mobile phone owners buying 220 million ring tones, the firm said.