US Album Sales Reach New Low, Report Confirms

Weekly sale figures over 10 times smaller than in 2000.

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US album sales have once again fallen to a new low, as a total of 4.25 million music records was sold during the week ending January 12.

The previous record was set in the week ending October 27, 2013 with a 4.49 million sale figure. The given data refers to the SoundScan era, which began tracking sales in 1991.

Comparing the latest low to an all-time high, the music industry's record-breaking week came during late December of 2000 when 45.4 million records were sold. As Billboard further points out, 289.41 million albums were sold in 2013, whereas in 2000 the sales reached the final figure of 785.14 million.

As the report further indicates, although weekly sales of under five million copies are expected to happen, their number had skyrocketed in 2013, going from a total of three in 2012 to staggering 18 during last year.

"It's normal to see soft sales figures in January every year - as the market adjusts back to normal after the Christmas shopping season, and because there are few new major albums to drive sales," the article reads. "This week's top selling album, for example, is the 'Frozen' soundtrack, with 86,000 sold."

The report ends on even less optimistic note, indicating that another low record might be just around the bend.

50 comments sorted by best / new / date

    In an industry dominated by tween pop, are they surprised?
    Actually, anybody COULD be buying records. This particular audience is technically the only one holding up their end of the bargain.
    Yeah, I'd be curious to see the breakdown of album sales and who's at the top. I buy from bands I love and want to support, but something tells me they would be nowhere close to contributing to the "top sales figures" of what they are talking about. But I mean, are we really worried about record sales? Are we afraid this is going to kill music? People who have a passion for it will always be making music, regardless of what the market wants. And hey, who knows, if somebody with a brain at the top of the tower realizes "this teen pop crap ain't sellin", maybe Sauron will turn his eye towards, ya know, real music.
    If it matters, I still buy CDs!
    So do I. I've bought 2 CDs so far this year and January is like halfway over. (The reissue of Above by Mad Season and Seventh Star by Black Sabbath)
    Way Cool JR.
    Same here. I haven't bought any this year yet, but I certainly plan to. I bought about 7 last year.
    lol I got about 90 cds last year (serious)
    Way Cool JR.
    I'v been buying CD's since they were first invented. I have bought (new copies) and donated 100's of them (same with cassettes & vinyls) There's not a-lot left out there that I want, but there are still some. Most of them are just copies that I have on old cassettes and Vinyls that are finally wearing out lol. But there is some brand new material I plan on getting this year.
    I still buy a fkton of music. Vinyl, tapes (usually for the rarities), CDs, etc. I'm not american though, so I couldn't help with these stats.
    It is sad, but it is completely inevitable. I think the only hope artists have is if they produce a great record people might think to actually buy the record and support the artist.
    It doesn't help that many outlets that sell music aren't even re-stocking their albums. They're just letting their entire music section look like a ghost town. I know that's not the only problem, but come on. If all that's left is shit, what's the point of buying?
    This is so true, in Denmark the biggest music chain has turned away from music (and even films) and seem to focus more on clothing these days. It might mean that they will survive and maybe they might even get a bigger focus on niche music instead of pop, but right now it just looks like they are giving up. Heck, back when David Bowie released his new album, they didn't even bother to stock up on older releases like Heroes and whatever else they might have been able to sell.
    If nobody sells CD's then how are you supposed to buy them???? Amazon is nice and all, but I used to look forward to going to the store every Tuesday and checking stuff out hands on. If I have to order and wait, might as well download.
    I still buy, if I like the band Ill check to see if they have vinyl as well. I support the band, even if they get pennies on the dollar, they still have pay back studio costs if fronted by the labels, front touring costs, pay crews and feed themselves. Every penny helps these up and coming bands get a good start.
    I'd go to a lot more concerts if ticket prices were like much lower than like $186 and up, and shirts well I'd rather pay 10 bucks for a shirt instead of 20-30...I buy a lot of albums though, ;D
    Because most people are streaming or buying MP3's instead because it's easy, cheaper, saves them space and is going to be the future. Only us old farts, stuck in our old ways still buy CD's. I have a collection of about 500 CD's, but this year I significantly slowed down my CD purchases and only bought maybe 10-20 CD's this year, mostly only new releases because it's not worth it anymore. CD's are going to be gone in a few years and continuing to build my collection is just a waste. I give it 10 years. By 2025, all disc based physical media is going to be obsolete. First to go will be music CD's, then your DVD's and blu-ray movies/TV shows, and eventually video games will follow suite. The writing is on the wall, all these industries have been preparing for this for years and the transition is happening right now. Everything is going to be up in a cloud and people will pay for the right to stream certain files or download them like a lot of people already do. I don't like paying for something I can't physically own, but I've come to the realization that there will come a time soon when I won't have much of a choice.
    While it seems plausible, i'm not sure that it will happen that quickly, for two reasons. First of all vinyl is more popular than ever and even seem to be more popular than cds among music nerds (i've seen a lot of vinyl dedicated stores pop up lately, i think there's 3 in my town by now) and it's also important to notice that pc games are still released on discs,even though they seem quite useless considering the steam requirements on most of them. Personally i only buy physical products, i just like owning my stuff and i don't really trust online services to contain my favourite movies/music and videogames for the rest of my life. I want something tangible i can rely on.
    I don't think physical media will go obsolete at all. Vinyl seems to have been a constant feature in music, especially in the Punk and Indie scenes. Cassette tapes are making a comeback (again, in smaller Punk/Indie scenes) as well because they're a really cheap way for a band to get a physical release out there without having to go for vinyl or CD. Even CDs and DVDs will still be around I think, for the same reason Steve Albini still records to tape; they're tangible products that will last if treated properly, digital files are too easy to lose if your PC ****s up, whereas I live safe in the knowledge that all of my physical collection will last for years, even decades.
    Then all these electronics companies better be including some GIGANTIC hard drives for their products because downloading EVERYTHING fills up a lot of space quickly.
    1. CD's depreciate SEVERELY. You couldn't give them away. 2. CD's cant be played by a cell phone or mp3 player. 3. CD's take up too much space and are easily ruined. 4. CD's are overpriced. 5. CD's are only of nostalgic value these days, just like vinyl album became after cd's came out. As great as it feels to support your favorite bands by buying albums, they rarely do see a profit from the album sales itself. Your better off buying band clothing from their website and seeing their live shows if you want to support them.
    As much as you might not want to admit that this guy is right, he totally is. Buying CD's is not a good way to support the artist at all. That only really helps the record labels, many of which should die out anyway.
    It is all nostalgia over effectiveness. Surprises me how resistant people are at admitting it.
    Ill agree with you to an extent. Also with Morbid... Some of this still comes back to there are some of us that enjoy kicking back and listening to old (and new) vinyl. It may be a "nostalgia" thing as you say. However some of us just enjoy walking into our music rooms sifting through our old Sabbath records and dropping a needle. Don't get me wrong, I buy digital music and keep it on the laptop. OR load the cool little thumb drive that usually comes with the purchase of vinyl.
    Partially nostalgia, but vinyl also has to be mixed and mastered with pin point precision, if anything is off it could **** up the entire vinyl, too much low end in the mix would throw the needle out of the grooves for example. Whereas with CD there's not so many limitations, which means more opportunity to do bad mixing/mastering and getting away with it.
    1. You can rip a CD onto your computer and convert it to MP3 files quite easily, and transfer them onto your MP3 player or cell phone using FREE software. 2. Look up Amazon. There are some sellers who have some NEW CDs for quite cheap. 3. Do you live in a cubicle? I live in a pretty small house and they don't take up much space. Also, I have yet to ruin one. Because I'm careful with them.
    Lol Natures
    There were less albums I wanted to buy last year. There were a lot in 2012, maybe there will be a lot in 2014.
    I bought 3 Cd's in 2013: Korn - The Paradigm Shift In This Moment - Blood Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King And out of those I love them all except Hail to the King. So far, I have no reason to buy another CD in 2014.
    There is nothing out there to buy from new artist they all suck the only bands that come out with anything new that are worth buying are bands from the 90s and back the new gen. sucks.If Slayer or Metallica put a new lp out or even Alan Jackson right now sales would be up new shit sucksssss
    Who cares? U2 still makes hundreds of millions of dollars touring. The only artists who are moaning are those who are either too shit to perform live or too lazy.
    LOL U2 is also like one of the most popular bands ever. Nice upward comparison there.
    The majority of my friends who listen to heavy metal buy CD's. But I can't think of a single of my friends who prefer pop music who would even consider paying for music, besides MAYBE a Spotify subscription. Buying CD's is such a weird concept for a lot of people. All they care about are digital singles. So of course the the album sales are dwindling. All I know is that heavy metal is thriving, and bands will never stop releasing CD's or vinyl records in metal.
    While the already poor are suffering much more, we have people wasting money on researching how many albums were sold this year and the last and new records of this and that, so that we all fell bad for the majority of the people (including record companies and all involved) who will probably less satisfied that they can't buy 10 Lambo's to use as toy cars in an underground formula 1 style track in the backyard. It's not like they're struggling to bring enough money home to supply their family or the possibility of gifting something to their son or daughter just so that feeling of happiness in their eyes doesn't fade away from memory.
    I think statistics like this should be taken with a pinch of salt, they clearly don't state the formats sold (is it CDs? Digital? Vinyl?) and I doubt that they will also count sales made by indie labels or stuff bands have released themselves, which means there's a huge dark figure as to what has actually been sold.