Overall Canadian music sales declined by 8.5% in 2008, according to the latest figures from Nielsen SoundScan Canada released today, as even an 58% increase in digital sales could not offset with a 6 million album drop in catalog sales.

Total album sales declined by 14% to 35.9 million units from 41.8 in 2007. Catalog sales led the decline by dropping from 27.5 million in 2007 to 21.5 million last year.

Universal Music Canada continued to lead the way in terms of marketshare, with 38.72% of the Canadian music market, up slightly on 2007. Sony BMG slipped to 19.32% of overall sales in 2008, from 20.20% the prior year. Warner Music Group came in third with 14.27% of the market, up from 13.76% in 2007, and EMI tallied 10.26% share, up from 9.45% in 2007.

Digital track sales jumped by almost 15 million songs, closing the year at 40.7 million tracks, with digital album sales up 69% to 3.36 million. Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" led the way in digital sales with 46,700 albums sold, and was the second leading album of the year with 334,000 copies sold. That trailed AC/DC's "Black Ice," which sold 341,000 copies, but was not available in digital formats.

The jump in digital sales accounted for a decline in sales at traditional retail outlets, which only accounted for 58% of album sales, down 5% from the year previous.

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