Total U.S. music transactions grew 2.1% to 1.55 billion units from 1.51 billion units while digital growth slowed and CD sales continued to plummet for the year ended Jan. 3, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The 2.1% growth is down from the 11% growth, registered last year over 2007, when total music transactions totaled 1.37 billion units.

Breaking out total transactions, digital tracks grew 8.3% to nearly 1.16 billion units, which is down from the 26.7% growth the configuration generated in 2008 when that years total was 1.07 billion downloads versus 2007's 844.2 million units.

Meanwhile, album sales declined 12.7% to 373.9 million from 2008's total of 428.4 million units, which is a slight improvement over the 14.4% decline experienced at the end of 2008 when that year's total was measured against 2007's total of 500.5 million units.

Looking at albums, including track equivalent albums - where 10 track downloads equal one album - last year albums w/TEA totaled 489.8 million units, down 8.5% from the previous year's total of 535.4 million units. That the same percentage decline recorded in 2008 over 2007's total of 585 million album units w/TEA.


Universal Music Group retained its perennial lead in marketshare, chalking up 30.7% in albums w/TEA, down from last year's 32.2%. Sony Music Entertainment closed the gap finishing with 28% versus last year's 24.4%. The Warner Music Group ranked third with 20.3%, while the indies collectively came in fourth with 12.2%, including .13% in titles that SoundScan couldn't categorize by distributor, and EMI came in fifth with 8.8%.

Interscope/Geffen/A&M ranked first in total album market share with TEA, with 7.6%. Excluding TEA, Atlantic Records ranked first in total album marketshare with 7.3% and current album marketshare with 8.2%. Columbia came in first in digital track share finishing with 10.5%.

53 Week Calendar

Last year had an unusual calendar - the SoundScan year actually had 53 weeks. So in order to reflect a 52-week comparison, SoundScan eliminated sales from the first week of 2009, which ended Jan. 4, 2009.

If sales from that week is counted in a 53-week 2009 comparison to a 52-week 2008 comparison, total transaction units for 2009 was nearly 1.6 million units, which means transactions increased 5.4%; while CD sales totaled 382.4 million units which computes to a 10.7% decline; digital tracks totaled 1.9 billion units, which represents a 11.9% increase over 2008; and albums w/TEA totaled 502 million units which translates into a 6.2% decline.

Excluding TEA, Universal Music Group came in first in total albums with 30.2% share; current albums with nearly a 34% share and catalog with 25.4% share. It also came out on top in digital albums with 26.9% share and digital tracks with 33%.

Genres Breakdown

Back to the 52-week year: jazz was the only genre that almost broke even with a slight 0.1% decline to 11.7 million units down from 11.8. The other genre winners - in that their decline wasn't as bad as the U.S. industry's overall album decline of 12.7% - were country, which declined 3.2% to 46.1 million, down from 47.6 million units; Christian/gospel declined 6.6% to 27.8 million from 2008's 29.8 million units; classical declined 8.9% to 12.1 million units, down from 13.3 million in 2008; R&B down 9.3% to 69.9 million units from 77 million units; and rock was down 11.1% to 124.2 million units from 2008's 139.7 million units. The genres that posted declines greater than the market were Latin, down 34.3% to 16.5 million units from 25.1 million units; rap, a subset of R&B, down 20.9% to 26.4 million units from 33.4 million units; new age down 20% to 2.4 million units from 2.9 million units.

Looking at albums without TEA, CD sales totaled 294.9 million units, which is an 18.2% decline from the 360.6 million units scanned in 2008. Meanwhile, digital albums grew 16.1% to 76.4 million units, up from 65.8 million units in 2008. That means that in 2009 digital albums comprised 20.4% of album sales as compared with 2008 when they accounted for 15.4% of album sales. CDs, meanwhile, now accounted for 78.8% of albums sales in 2009, as compared with 84.2% in 2008.

Vinyl Up

Vinyl albums continued to enjoy robust growth of 36%, but that's off a small base as the format's album scans totaled 2.5 million units in versus 1.9 million units in 2008.

Once again catalog albums performed better than current albums with the formed declining 8.3% to 163.9 million units from 178.8 million units in 2008 as compared to the latter's 15.9% decline to 209.9 million units versus the 2008 total of 249.6 million units. In 2008, current suffered an 18.5% decline from 2007's total of 306.4 million units, while catalog only declined 7.9% from 2007's total of 194.1 million units.