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January 12, 2013 • Music Diary, News

In 2012, Rock and Pop Continued to Dominate Digital Music Sales


The results of 2012 music sales are starting to trickle in, and Nielson Soundscan has a solid summary of the results. Here are some highlights:

For 2012, sales of albums and track equivalents are down slightly at -1.8% vs. 2011. Digital Albums are up 14% and Digital Tracks are up 5%. CD sales declined 13%.

If you look at the digital sales only as Statista did, you will see that Pop, Rock and Hip-Hop accounted for over 65% of sales, with Rock at nearly 25% and Pop at just over 22%. Add in country and you have accounted for nearly 80% of sales – which means that all non-Pop oriented genres and non-mainstream recordings accounted for only 20% of music … which is quite disappointing, honestly.

The Pop numbers show that what the music industry is selling, people are buying. The massive blitz for Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’ paid off big time, and the huge investments buying airplay time for folks like Adele, Maroon 5, Justin Beiber and so on have also resulted in the industry exerting massive amounts of control – the top 10 selling artists in 2012 accounted for more than 10% of ALL digital sales, which is a sobering number.

In terms of record company control Universal (now including EMI), Sony and Warner accounted for ~90% of all sales, with a mere 10% belonging to ‘others’. Yes, the top 10 selling pop/rock artists sold more than every non-‘Big 3’ label combined.

And as expected, Digital sales were the driving force for growth, with CD sales continuing to contract.

I have been all-digital for over a decade, so this is nothing new for me. My purchases were largely non-major label avant-garde jazz, so they don’t even register on the radar for these charts and reports. What happened with YOUR personal music buying habits in 2012?

You can get more info from Statista, who also created this cool chart!

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