Taylor Swift's Red put the oldies back in their place (sort of).
When Nielsen SoundScan released their mid-year report last summer, we noticed something odd: old records were outselling new ones for the first time. But in Soundscan's 2012 year-end report, released this morning, the kids are once again back on top. Sort of. This is going to get all kinds of wonky, but hang with me.
Taylor Swift's Red put the oldies back in their place (sort of). Strong Massive sales of Taylor Swift's Red (3.1 million in 10 weeks) and a post-Grammy bump for Adele's 21 (seriously, there are people who don't have this record?) gave new album sales a bump. In the end, 161 million current albums sold in 2012, and 155 million catalog albums (released more than 18 months ago). THAT SAID ... Adele's 21 turned 18 months old halfway through 2012, but its 4.4 million albums sold are considered "current" due to a Soundscan technicality. Consider the following clarification from Soundscan:
An album moves from Billboard's "current" charts to catalog status when it is eighteen months, ranks below number 100 on the Billboard 200, and no longer has a current track active at a format monitored by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.
In the case of albums still active at radio, the album will move to catalog when the last track being promoted by the label posts four consecutive declines in detections or falls off the pertinent radio chart.
Prior to 1/1/97, to qualify for a Catalog Chart, the Billboard reviewing process had to have determined this title to be catalog.
What this means is that 21 is still considered current only because it is still massively popular.
So, don't go on and think that "new" albums are making a comeback. Were it not for the Adele anomaly, the numbers would be even closer. And, besides, we're still waist-deep in a paradigm shift. Catalog sales, which historically, according to Soundscan, have made up about 40 percent of sales, accounted for about 49 percent of sales in 2012 (and would be more but for the Adele asterisk).
Few other interesting tidbits from the year-end report:
-- CD sales are down 13 percent, digital album sales are up 14 percent.
-- There were 4.6 million LPs sold in 2012, up from 3.9 million in 2011.
-- There were 198 million physical albums sold (mainly CDs and LPs, but a few cassettes, too).
-- 76 million albums sold over the holidays
The 10 Best-Selling Albums of 2012
1. Adele, 21: 4.4 million
2. Taylor Swift, Red: 3.1 million
3. One Direction, Up All Night: 1.6 million
4. Mumford & Sons, Babel: 1.4 million
5. One Direction, Take Me Home: 1.34 million
6. Justin Bieber, Believe: 1.32 million
7. Carrie Underwood, Blown Away: 1.2 million
8. Luke Bryan, Tailgates & Tanlines: 1.1 million
9. Lionel Richie, Tuskegee: 1.07 million
10. Jason Aldean, Night Train: 1.02 million