Spurred by a fairly slow release week and the general growth of streaming, actual album sales hit an all-time low this week. Only 3.97 million actual albums were sold across the entire United States, marking the lowest weekly sum since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking that sort of data back in 1991. The top-selling album last week, Wiz Khalifa’s Blacc Hollywood, moved just 90,000 copies, and as Billboard notes, three other records that made the top 10 averaged just 31,000 copies apiece.
Predictably, it’s the CD market that’s been hit the hardest by this downturn, with mass merchants and chains moving about 25 percent fewer CDs this year than they did by this point in 2013. But while that’s not surprising, given the general decline in physical album sales, digital sales are struggling as well. Hard-copy U.S. album sales are down 14.6 percent in 2014, while digital and individual track sales are both down about 12 percent as well.
Overall, it points to a shift toward streaming, rather than purchasing music. According to Billboard, if things continue along this trajectory, next year we can expect to see 3 to 4 million be the normal “ceiling” of album sales.