July 3, 2008 / 5:21 AM / 12 years ago

U.S. album sales plunge in first half

NEW YORK (Billboard) - It wasn’t as steep as last year’s drop, but U.S. album sales posted another double-digit decline at midyear.

Sales plunged 11% to 204.6 million units for the six months ending June 29, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That compares with 229.8 million units scanned in the first half last year, which was down 15.1% from the same period in 2006.

This year’s drop was fueled largely by the 16.3% decrease in CD sales, but digital sales remained a bright spot. Downloads posted a 34.4% increase to 31.6 million units. Sales of digital tracks jumped 30% to 532.7 million units in the first half. That compares with the 417.3 million recorded in the six-month period ending July 1, 2007.

The top-selling album at midyear was rapper Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III,” with 1.5 million scans in only three weeks of release. Jack Johnson’s “Sleep Through the Static” was next at 1.2 million, followed by Mariah Carey’s “E=MC2” at 1.1 million.

They were the year’s only million-sellers at the midpoint, but two other discs were poised to join them: Alicia Keys’ 2007 set “As I Am” (986,000 sold in 2008) and Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” (971,000 after only two weeks).

Six albums had topped the million mark at this point last year.

Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” was the best-selling track at 2.6 million units. Flo Rida’s “Low,” featuring T-Pain, was second with 2.4 million, followed by Jordan Sparks “No Air” duet with Chris Brown, which clocked 2.1 million.

Reuters/Billboard

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