Not so much a conclusion, as a thought: Some took the lopsided sales after Michael Jackon‘s death – he sold 2.4 million digital tracks, but only 422,000 albums in the remaining few days of the chart week after he died – as proof positive the album was kaput. Some spoke a little too soon.
What seems more clear now is that there simply weren’t enough Michael Jackson albums on store shelves to meet demand. Once Jackson’s labels caught up – and they did a pretty miraculous job in doing so, with CD pressing plants running 24 hours in the early days – sales started to balance out. At the close of this chart week, the totals stand at 3,787,000 albums sold, compared to 7,578,000 tracks.
That means that when you remove the first few days of sales, when many stores didn’t have physical albums in stock, the sales totals are 5.5 million tracks compared to 3.4 million albums. What’s more, his “Number Ones” set, which has been the top-selling album in the U.S. For five of the past six weeks? About a third of the sales for that album were digital in that shortened chart week following his death. That number dropped below ten percent the following week and sits at three percent this week, when it’s yet again the only album to sell more than 100,000 copies.
I’m no luddite – these days my primary music listening devices are my iBook or my Blackberry. But it certainly seems premature to call the CD dead. Or at least not to recognize it’s still the go-to format in certain situations for an impressive number of people.