Lowest Weekly Album Sales … Ever?

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cbsrecord1 Lowest Weekly Album Sales ... Ever?

If it wasn’t common knowledge that the music industry could use some help, it certainly is now after last week’s album sales figures from Nielsen Soundscan.

The numbers – and what they might mean for you – after the jump.
Last week, the U.S. music industry sold 4,984,000 albums. That’s the fewest albums sold in a week since Soundscan began keeping weekly records in 1994. It’s more than three-quarters of a million records less than the same week last year, and more than 40 million – that’s 40,000,000! – less than the all-time high.

There are three major theories being floated for the decline:

  1. Online Legal Sales: Last week, 21.7 million songs were sold online through legal retailers such as Amazon.com and iTunes. They don’t count toward album sales.
  2. Online Illegal Downloading: Immeasurable by any reasonable standard, the specter of online piracy still haunts record company executives. Just how big an impact piracy makes on sales, however, is still debatable.
  3. Slow Release Week: Sales still rely heavily on new releases, and there just wasn’t much to get excited about last week. Sales should rebound in June, with new releases from everyone from [lastfm]Sarah McLachlan[/lastfm] to [lastfm]Drake[/lastfm] set to hit store shelves.

Will this change in music consumption from full length albums to individual tracks alter the way musicians write and release new material? Will fans see new songs from their favorites on a more regular basis? Possibly. But fans could also lose out on the more fully-formed ideas and themes of a full length record if artists look to release work one song at a time.

How have your buying habits changed? Do you still head to the record store (or, more common today, Best Buy) on release day for the new album from your favorite artists? Does it take extra features (bonus tracks, deluxe lyric books) for you to buy a CD rather than download music – legal or otherwise – online? Sound off in the comments below.

[Credit: Billboard]

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