Nielsen today announced its 2012 mid-year SoundScan numbers for the U.S. and the trends look pretty familiar: digital album sales were up 14% compared to the same time period last year and digital track sales were up 6%. Overall, music sales were up 6%, though overall album sales were down a little bit (-0.6%), as the sales numbers of physical CDs continues to drop. Still, Nielsen says CD album sales still accounted for 61% of all album sales in the last six months. That’s down from 66% last year, but still higher than most of us who live in the digital world would expect.
Overall, says Nielsen, digital album and track sales are on track to set new sales records by the end of the year. Digital sales now represent 57.7% of all music sales, up from 53% in the first half of 2011. “Sales trended well in the first half of the year,” said David Bakula, Nielsen’s SVP of client development in a canned statement today. “While retail sales continue to face challenges related to broader market trends, digital sales gains are expected to achieve another record-breaking year.”
It’s worth noting, by the way, that there is still life in analog as well: sales of vinyl albums grew just as fast as digital sales (14%) over the last six months (though the bestselling vinyl album, Jack White’s Blunderbuss, only sold 18,000 units).
The numbers for total album sales may have looked a bit different though if it weren’t for Adele’s 21 – an album that was released all the way back in January 2011. It’s still the bestselling album of the year so far, with over 3.6 million total units sold (and almost 900,000 digital sales). That’s far ahead of the #2 album, Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee, which sold just over 900,000 units in total.