Detail from the cover of Justin Timberlake's
The 20/20 Experience
New York, NY (January 14, 2014)—According to a year-end report from Nielsen Entertainment and Billboard, digital music sales progressively decreased throughout 2013.
Nielsen SoundScan figures indicate that digital sales of catalog albums and tracks fell as listeners increasingly switched over to streaming. Although catalog album sales grew for the first two quarters, overall sales were down by nearly 6 percent for the year. Catalog track sales started declining from the first of the year and were down nearly 16 percent year-over-year in Q4.
Sales of current tracks finished the year 1.5 percent down from the previous year after an initial two quarters of growth. Current albums grew in Q1 then declined through the year, ending 3.8 percent down compared to 2012.
"Despite shifts in how music is consumed, we see continued growth in overall music consumption,” says David Bakula, SVP Industry Insights, Nielsen Entertainment. “With more than 118 billion streams in 2013 reported by our data providers, which is the approximate revenue equivalent of 59 million albums purchased, the industry remains vibrant as consumption continues to change and expand.”
According to the report, streaming enjoyed better than 32 percent growth in 2013 over 2012, including a significant +103 percent increase in on-demand audio streaming.
The report draws attention to several highlights. There were more million-selling albums in 2013 than the previous year—13 in 2013, ten in 2012—and when combined with track equivalent sales (TEA, whereby 10 individual track sales are considered equal to one album) 2013 won again—24 albums + TEA versus 22 in 2012.
The year’s top-selling digital album was Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, which was the only album in 2013 to sell more than two million copies (2.43M). It also became the second-lowest-selling album to reach the top spot since Lil Wayne’s The Carter III.
During 2013, Adele’s 21, released in 2011, surpassed 3 million sales to become the all-time top-selling digital album. The second and third spots went to Mumford and Sons for their albums Sigh No More and Babel, respectively.
Beyoncé’s surprise album release in December sold 617,000 copies in its first week to take the title as the second-biggest digital album debut ever. Beyoncé is currently #9 on the all-time best-selling digital album chart.
Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP2 had the second-biggest album debut week of 2013 with 792,000 units sold. Total sales for the year were over 1.7 million units.
Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis both exceeded 6 million digital song sales for the year.