For the first time since Nielsen Soundscan started tracking album sales in 1991, old albums are outselling new albums. 76.6 million catalog albums—records released more than 18 months ago—were sold in the first half of 2012, compared to 73.9 million current albums. David Bakula, a Nielsen analyst, told OC Weekly that “the primary catalyst for the trend is cost.” In general, new records cost more than older records. Catalog records are usually priced between $6 and $11, while new records start at about $13 for a physical release. The top-selling catalog records so far this year include Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits and four different Whitney Houston albums.
The trend can also be contributed to a lack of blockbuster records in the top half of 2012, something which could be fixed with the slate of big name records coming this fall from acts like Kanye West, Green Day, No Doubt, Muse, and Mumford & Sons. All that being said, retailers say they feel better about this year than last, noting that while album sales are down a little bit, the steady sale of catalog records makes the economic outlook a little more predictable.
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