Overall Album Sales Down for First Half of Year, as Digital and Vinyl Trend Upward

Best-Sellers Include Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Mumford & Sons, Lumineers

Sales of recorded music in the U.S. continued to decline during the first half of this year, according to figures just released by Nielsen SoundScan, the company that monitors both physical and digital retail purchases. 

But the good news — at least for country and Americana music fans — is that Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers are among the best-sellers.

The figures cited here cover the period between Dec. 31, 2012, and June 30, 2013.

Overall album sales dipped from 220.3 million copies during the corresponding period last year to 210.2 million, a drop of 4.6 percent. The overall sales total covers albums in all formats, including what Nielsen Soundscan calls “track equivalent albums,” a name given to each cluster of 10 individual tracks sold.

In the CD format alone, album sales slid 14.2 percent — from 91.1 million to 78.2 million.

However, digital album sales rose from 57.2 million to 60.8 million, a jump of 6.3 percent.

And in the burgeoning LP/vinyl album category, the increase was from 2.2 million to 2.9 million, a rise of 33.5 percent

Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience ranked as the half-year’s best-selling album, moving 2,551,000 copies.

Swift’s Red came in at No. 7 (1,123,000 copies), Mumford & Son’s Babel at No. 8 (1,051,000), Shelton’s Based on a True Story at No. 9 (1,004,000) and Florida Georgia Line’s Here’s to the Good Times at No. 10 (944,000).

20/20 Experience was also the period’s best-selling digital album (869,000), while Babel scored No. 4 in that category (464,000) and the self-titled Lumineers No. 6 (385,000).

In the top-selling physical album category, 20/20 Experience rolled in at No. 1 (1,168,000), followed at No. 3 by Based on a True Story (466,000), at No. 4 by Babel (419,000), at No. 5 by Red (416,000) and at No. 8 by Here’s to the Good Times (370,000).

Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories was the best-selling vinyl album (32,000), while Babel stood at No. 4 (15,000) and Lumineers at No. 9 (12,000). Obviously, vinyl isn’t shaping up to be the savior of the industry.

“Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis was the best-selling digital song (5,558,000), trailed at No. 7 by Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” (3,112,000) and at No. 9 by Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” (2,455,000).

Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” was the most streamed song (438,450,000 times), while Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” came in at No. 10 (66,572,000). These totals include both audio and video streams.

Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” racked up the most radio plays — 392,000 — during this period, while “I Knew You Were Trouble” occupied the No. 3 spot (368,000) and the Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” the No. 6 (361,000).