Album sales continue to erode during the third quarter as scans totaled nearly 298 million units, an 11.7% decline from 337.3 million units tallied during the same time frame last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Tracks, meanwhile, continue to be the bright spot as 795.8 million were downloaded in the nine month period ended Sept. 28, up 20% from the 612.2 million counted last year in the first nine months of 2007.

However, due to eroding CD sales, the 377.4 million units of album sales combined with track-equivalent albums, are down 5.3% decline from last year's combined total of 398.6 million. Within that, CD sales are down 17.1% to 249.2 million units for the first nine months of this year, as compared with 300.6 million last year in the same time frame last year.

The top selling album this year is Lil' Wayne's "Tha Carter," with 2.5 million copies, which is more than the 2 million units scanned by last year's top selling title at the nine-month mark, Daughtry's self-titled album. So far, only 11 albums have reached the million-unit mark as opposed to 20 last year at this time. For digital tracks, 34 have past the million unit milestone this year, including Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love, which ranks No. 1 with 3.1 million downloads. Last year, 26 tracks reached the million unit mark in the first nine-months.

Looking at marketshare for the first nine months of this year, the Universal Music Group continues to be the leader, with 32% of album share, down a few ticks from the 32.2% it had in the first nine months of 2007. Sony BMG Music Entertainment still holds the No. 2 spot with 24.1%, but that's down from 24.7%. The Warner Music Group continues to grow with 21.1%, up from 20.2% as does the independent sector, which collectively had 13.4%, up from 12.8%. EMI, on the other hand, slightly declined to 9.5% from 10% last year.

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