Digital Music Finally Topped Physical Copies in 2011

According to a Nielsen (NYSE:NLSN) and Billboard report, for the first time ever digital music outsold physical copies in 2011. Digital music accounted for 50.3% of all music purchased in 2011. Digital sales were up 8.4% this year while physical copies were down 5%.

Lady Gaga was the year’s most streamed artist while Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” was the most streamed song racking up big with both music and video streamers. Adele’s 21 was the best-selling digital album and her track “Rolling in the Deep” was the best-selling digital song.

The year was also a turning point for the digital music industry in terms of downloading albums. The Neilsen and Billboard report showed that 2011 was the first time since 2004 for both digital and physical albums that sales have gone up compared to the previous year.

Yahoo! Finance quoted Brian Zisk, executive producer of the SF MusicTech Summit, who said, “Clearly the plastic format was not an optimal format for selling music. It’s a much healthier ecosystem for folks to be selling digital formats instead of physical formats. That’s the future, and the way it’s going.” Zisk also credits smartphones and tablet with the rise in digital music consumption. “The ability for folks to purchase music everywhere has really expanded the digital marketplace. They don’t need to go to physical store — anywhere the phone is people are able to purchase music.”

Further Reading: Artists Question Spotify’s Payment Structure>>

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