By Zachary Swickey
It’s been no secret that the music industry has been on a sharp decline over the last decade – or at least album sales have. With the emergence of Napster in the ‘90s and the eventual widespread acceptance of purchasing music online, the industry has had a tough time keeping up with these new trends and combating piracy, but things are looking up.
While there’s still a week of reporting left for Soundscan – the company that counts the amount of albums sold – 2011 appears to be the first year boasting an increase in overall album sales since 2004. Granted, the increase is only 1 percent, but that’s coming off 2010, when sales were down 13 percent and the years prior when sales dropped an average of 8 percent regularly year-over-year.
Who does the industry owe a big ups to for this achievement? Well, it’s a no-brainer that Adele’s 21, the best-selling album since Usher’s 2004 effort Confessions, with 5.68 million units moved so far, is the biggest reason – an achievement made all the more impressive considering she had to axe her stateside tour (twice!) due to vocal problems.
Of course, classic crooner Michael Buble has seen his Christmas album move a half milli a week this entire month. Christmas is Buble’s third number one album, and with 2.43 million sold, it’s the second best selling of the year behind Adele – overtaking Lady Gaga’s Born This Way within the last week.
Gaga’s numbers are nothing to scoff at with Born This Way going solidly double platinum this year. Amazon’s 99-cent firesale of her new album during its first week of release helped Gaga to a million-unit debut, but the controversy stemming from the sale also caused Billboard and Soundscan to readjust the rules for charting albums – full-length releases priced below $3.49 no longer count.
Ohio rockers the Black Keys having been living the blues for well over a decade, but it’s only within the last two years that the duo has gotten the attention they deserve. Their ‘09 effort, Brothers, pushed 426,000 copies this year, while their most recent album, El Camino has already shipped just under 300,000 in less than a month. Rock is clearly not dead folks.