Album Sales Down 13.9% in First Half of 2017; Catalog Makes Up 62.9% of Market

by VVN Music

The sales and listening of recorded albums continues to drop according to Buzz Angle Music but, of the LPs that have been purchased or streamed, almost two-thirds were catalog product.

Albums sales, including streaming equivalent sales, are down 13.9% in the first half of 2017 compared to the first half of 2016. The purchasing of downloaded digital albums took the biggest hit, down 24.3% while physical album sales was only down 2.9% meaning people still want to be able to hold their music in their hands.

CD sales were down just 3.9% from 37.4 million to 35.9 million while vinyl albums continue to grow with a 20.4% increase from 3 million to 3.6 million.

Even more telling is the fact that people are much more interested in buying classic albums than anything recent.  Overall, catalog albums (catalog plus deep catalog) makes up 62.9% of the market while new and recent music only gets 37.1%.  When limited to just physical albums, catalog takes 63.7% compared to 36.3% for recent product.

As has been the trend over the last decade, the cherry picking of specific cuts off of albums continues to grow, up 29.5% year-to-year. Catalog once again leads the way with 59.7% of sales versus 40.3% for newer songs.

Then there is the streaming revolution. Consumption of on-demand audio streams was up a whopping 58.5% with 141 billion streams through subscriptions and 38.5 billion on ad-supported services.

Hip-Hop/Rap leads all other genres in albums sales:
  1. Hip-Hop/Rap - 20.6% of the market
  2. Pop - 14.3%
  3. R&B - 9.3%
  4. Latin - 8.5%
  5. Country - 8.0%
  6. Rock - 7.3%
  7. Alternative - 5.8%
  8. Indie Rock - 4.4%
  9. Dance - 2.9%
  10. Metal - 2.7%
Note that Buzz Angle breaks down rock into a number of different genres; however, if you add together the market share for rock, alternative, indie rock, metal and punk, rock as a general genre comprises 22.7% of the market.

Ed Sheeran has the top selling album so far this year with Divide, with 1.7 million including 710 thousand in sales, 3.8 million in individual tracks purchased and 946 million streams. He's followed by Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Bruno Mars and The Weeknd.  No veteran artist is in the top 25 overall when all forms of consumption are used. 

When pure album sales are just used, Sheeran is still at number 1 but veterans fare better with Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 at 8 (337 thousand), Metallica's Hardwired...To Self Destruct at number 10 (300 thousand), Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1 at 20 (194 thousand), Keith Urban's Ripcord at 21 (187 thousand) and Reba McEntire's Sing It Now: Songs of Hope and Faith at 25 (165 thousand). 

In vinyl album sale, the soundtrack to La La Land leads the way with 29.1 thousand followed by Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1 (28.8 thousand), Bob Marley & the Wailer's Legend (23.6 thousand), Amy Winehouse's Back to Black (21.2 thousand) and the Beatles' Abbey Road (19.6 thousand). 

Ed Sheeran also heads Album Sales by Artist with 823 thousand but Metallica is not far behind at 706 thousand. Kendrick Lamar, Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars fill out the top five while Garth Brooks is at 7 and the Beatles at 8. 


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