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The bad news was that overall album sales, including digital albums, were down 14% from 500 million to a little over 428 million.
MUSIC PURCHASES UP, AS PHYSICAL SALES WANE
Digital Music Accounts for 32% of All Purchases
The glass might be half empty, but there's still some activity in the beleaguered record business.

According to our good friends at Nielsen SoundScan, overall music sales in 2008, including albums, singles, music video, digital tracks...everything except illicit file-sharing, are up to 1.5 billion, representing an overall growth of 10.5% from last year. In addition, individual digital track sales were up a whopping 27%, from 844 million to more than a billion. That's a lotta "Bleeding Love" downloads, almost 3.4 million, in fact, a milestone which led Leona Lewis over Lil Wayne's "Lollipop," Flo Rida's "Low," Katy Perry's " I Kissed a Girl" and Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" for the year's top-selling digital songs.

Overall, individual holiday music purchases exceeded 65 million in the final week of 2008, topping last year's 58.4 million music purchases. In the final week of the year, 47.7 million digital tracks were sold, beating last year's mark of 42.9 million. Digital album sales totaled 2.4 million, topping the previous high of 1.9 million set last year. The Top Five digital songs of the week (combining all downloaded versions) all broke 300k, with Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" leading the way, with 419k. Digital music now accounts for 32% of all purchases.

In another upbeat note, vinyl sales totaled 1.88 million, the most in the history of Soundscan, 2/3 of which were purchased at independent music stores.

That was the good news. The bad news was that overall album sales, including digital albums, were down 14% from 500 million to a little over 428 million, while overall album sales, counting every 10 downloaded tracks as a unit, were down 8.5%. Holiday album sales (from 11/17-12/28) were down almost 20%.

Universal Music Group was once again the leader in total albums (31%) and catalog (27%), followed by Sony (25.3/26.1), WMG (21.4/22.1) and EMI (8.9/10.8).

Top-selling albums of the year were Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III (2.87m), Coldplay's Viva la Vida (2.14m), Taylor Swift's Fearless (2.11m), Kid Rock's Rock N Roll Jesus (2.02m), AC/DC's Black Ice (1.9m), Taylor Swift (1.6m), Metallica's Death Magnetic (1.56m), T.I.'s Paper Trail (1.5m), Jack Johnson's Sleep Through Static (1.49m) and Beyonce's I Am...Sasha Fierce (1.46m). UMG had four of the Top 10 (including two by Taylor Swift).

Top-selling holiday albums include Taylor Swift's Fearless (1.5m), Beyonce's I Am...Sasha Fierce (1.45m), Nickelback's Dark Horse (1.2m), Britney Spears' Circus (1.1m), Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak (1m), Twilight soundtrack (856k), David Cook (811k), Josh Groban's Noel (767k), Now 29 (725k) and AC/DC's Black Ice (595k). That gave Sony four of the Top 10 (Beyonce, Britney, Cook, AC/DC), while UMG nabbed three (Swift, Kanye, Now 29). 

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