Digital music enjoyed breakout business over the last two weeks before Christmas. U.S. sales of digital tracks hit a record 5.04 million transactions for the week ending Dec. 26, Nielsen SoundScan rep

Digital music enjoyed breakout business over the last two weeks before Christmas. U.S. sales of digital tracks hit a record 5.04 million transactions for the week ending Dec. 26, Nielsen SoundScan reports. The amount sets a new high for a seven-day span.

Song sales surged by more than 1 million tracks week-over-week, smashing through a ceiling established just seven days earlier when 3.9 million tracks were sold during the week ending Dec. 19 -- a record at the time.

During the week of Dec. 26, four songs on Billboard's Hot Digital Tracks chart were downloaded more than 20,000 times, and 24 were downloaded more than 10,000 times, according to SoundScan. Prior to this, no chart has had more than 12 songs that sold 10,000 downloads each.

Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (Reprise) took the top spot on Hot Digital Tracks, with 28,456 sold.

The volume bumps of come amid press reports of brisk sales of MP3 players -- particularly Apple Computer's iPod mini and 20 GB iPod -- over the holiday season. Apple has been agressively marketing its iPod and iTunes franchises over the course of 2004.

Meanwhile, for full-year 2004, download sales top 135 million tracks, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That figure does not include full-album downloads.

The U.S. market for physical singles has not seen annual shipments of more than 100 million units since 1997, according to the RIAA. But the price points for physical singles were considerably higher than their digital descendants. The U.S. singles market at that time was valued at $441.8 million. The value of digital music sales in the United States this year -- including downloads, on-demand streaming music and subscription radio revenue combined -- is expected to be worth more than $250 million, Jupiter Research forecasts.