Nielsen SoundScan’s end of year numbers for 2013 are in, and they reveal that overall, digital music sales decreased compared to the previous year. This is the first time digital music sales have seen a decrease since Nielsen started counting digital sales in 2oo3, when the iTunes store launched.
Sales of individual digital tracks fell from 1.34 billion in 2012 to 1.26 billion in 2013, which is a 5.7 percent decrease. Digital album sales dropped from 117.7 million in 2012 to 117.6 million in 2013, a small 0.1 percent decrease. And it’s not just the digital sector that saw decreasing sales in 2013, as CD sales also declined by 14.5%.
Vinyl, on the other hand, had a fantastic year, showing a 32% growth, and now making 2% of U.S. album sales.
The figures should not come as a total shock, as the mid-year report revealed these trends, but it is yet another reminder that it is imperative for the industry to focus much attention on a sustainable future business model. The annual streaming numbers are not yet out, but presumably both streaming and illegal downloading contributed to the decline in digital sales.
2013 saw streaming services like Spotify come under fire from musicians, forcing them to be more open about their payment processes, and 2014 is set to be an interesting year for the music industry, as those with power attempt to keep up with the fast-paced changes to how we consume music.