SoundScan's Q1: 'Uptown Funk' Best-Selling Song, Universal Music Stays On Top

Courtesy
Bruno Mars in the video for "Uptown Funk."

These days, a 1.8 percent drop in album sales is actually good news.

In a slight turnaround from a year ago, digital album sales in the U.S. are up 2.8 percent to 28.26 million in the first quarter, while overall albums are only down 1.8 percent to 60.6 million, according to Nielsen Music. That digital tally wrapped up 2014 down 9.4 percent to 106.5 million, while overall sales dipped 11.2 percent.

While some may point to Drake's digital-only If You're Reading This It's Too Late for this reversal in fortune, digital album sales were actually only down slightly at 1.8 percent on Feb. 8, the last SoundScan week before the rapper's album came out.

In addition to an uptick on the digital side, vinyl sales have continued to climb and are now big enough to have an impact on the overall market. According to the data, vinyl sales are up 52.5 percent this year in the U.S. with 2.77 million units  (quite the jump over the 1.82 million scanned in the first quarter of 2014).

Last year's best-selling title, Taylor Swift's 1989, topped the first quarter with 949,000 scans and was also the biggest vinyl album with nearly 19,000 units. Swift is followed by Drake with 793,000 all-digital units, easily making it the quarter's best-selling album in that format. The top digital song was Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk!," featuring Bruno Mars, which scanned 3.7 million units.

Nielsen Music 2014: Streaming Is Not Killing the Record Business

Universal Music Group remains the top U.S. distributor with a 39.4 percent market share in albums, plus track equivalent albums. 

In our chart, indie market share is listed at only 13.1 percent, owing to the fact that market shares of major-owned indie distributors have been included within their major label parents. Billboard calculates market share by label ownership twice per year; in that view, the indie sector accounts for roughly 35 percent of the market.

An edited version of this article first appeared in the April 11 issue of Billboard.