Music in 2014: Taylor Takes the Year, Republic Records on Top, Streaming to the Rescue

Taylor Swift performs just before midnight from Times Square in New York City on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2015 on ABC.

ABC/Lou Rocco

Analyzing sales by store type, non-traditional CD merchants -- which includes online stores like Amazon, chains like Starbucks and concert venues -- were the only category showing sales growth, increasing 5.2% to 38.6 million units, up from the prior year's total of 36.9 million units. Independent stores also held their own, moving 18.2 million units in 2014, versus the 18.3 million scans counted in 2013, a decline of 0.5%.

Once again, large chains -- like Best Buy, Trans World Entertainment and Barnes & Noble -- were the big losers, with sales falling 20.6% to 31 million, from 39 million units in 2013. Likewise, mass merchants, such as Walmart and Target, also dropped 19.3%, to nearly 63 million units from 78 million scans in the prior year. And as noted, download stores declined 9.4%.

A version of this article first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of Billboard.