Year-to-date sales of recorded music reflect the continued interest of consumers in purchasing digitally, and in purchasing songs, but not in purchasing full albums. New figures released by Nielsen Soundscan show that overall album sales have dipped 3.2% in the U.S. and figures from the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) show a dip in sales of 13. 8% in the UK. It's not all gloom and doom for the album however. Sales of vinyl albums have grown 14.2% in the US and digital sales of albums have grown 13.8% in the US and 17.3% in the UK. Still, those pockets of growth were not enough to offset the overall decline in interest in album purchases.
There are still artists who can muster consumer interest in album purchases. Adele's "21" has now passed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" as the biggest selling album of all time in the UK, and may be on track to do the same in the US as well. But the album has been loaded with hit singles that many believe are fueling sales of the album. For the artist whose album has the more typical one, two, or maybe three hit singles, consumers are no longer willing to take a chance on an album's other unknown tracks. Meanwhile single sales are up 5.6% in the US and 6.3% in the UK.
That doesn't mean revenue for artists is down significantly. Most musicians rely heavily on income from touring, and revenue from streaming and subscription services are on the rise. In fact, some believe that the subscription playlist may be what's replaced the album as the consumer's favorite way to hear music.