U.S. album sales were down 9.2% in April 2009 (the five weeks starting March 30 and ending May 3) versus April 2008, according to data at Nielsen SoundScan. The deficit is a big improvement over the 17.9% deficit in March and the 11.5% deficit in February. Year-to-date album sales are down 12.5%. CD sales are down roughly 20% year-over-year.

At 33.7 million units, April's album sales total was 27.5% lower than the same period in 2007. The year-to-date figure for 2009 is 29.2% lower during that same time span.

The relatively strong performance of albums in April can be attributed to the more popular titles. The top 40 titles on the Billboard Top 200 album chart accounted for 20.6% of all sales in April 2009 versus a 17.4% share in April 2008. The top ten titles in April 2009 had an 11.7% share of total sales versus 9.3% in April 2008.

A greater concentration of sales is seen elsewhere in the Top 40. Albums ranked from No. 11 to No. 20 accounted for 4.0% of total sales in April 2009, a gain from 3.6% in April 2008. The albums ranked from No. 21 to No. 40 had a 4.9% share in April 2009 versus 4.6% in April 2008.

April 2008 saw No. 1 debuts from George Strait, Leona Lewis, Mariah Carey and Madonna. Those albums had sharp declines in their second weeks and beyond. Except for the second-week tally of Carey's "E=MC2," the only albums to exceed 100,000 units in a week were debuts. In April 2009, the "Hannah Montana" soundtrack had three weeks over 100,000 and two weeks slightly under that mark.