As the novel Coronavirus began forcing Americans to stay at home and quarantine, record stores began shutting their doors either voluntarily or by state order. Naturally, album sales hit a new weekly low in the United States last week. But that doesn’t just include physical albums, such as CD, vinyl, and cassette tapes. Digital albums also dropped to an all-time low, according to data from Nielsen Music/MRC Data.
The company, which was recently purchased by Billboard’s parent company, measures sales growth in the music industry for decades. In the week ending March 19, Nielsen reported overall album sales fell to 1.52 million, the lowest number since the company began tracking this kind of data back in 1991. That figure reflects a 29 percent decline from album sales in the week ending January 16, which reported 1.65 million.
Here are a few more highlights:
- Weekly physical album sales declined by 36%, falling to just 979,000 copies sold. It’s the first time physical album sales have ever fallen below 1 million.
- Fans are favoring streaming over physical albums. Unsurprisingly so, since online music streaming has been a trend since the late 1990s and early 2000s.
- Vinyl album sales continue to soar. 2019 marked the fourteenth consecutive year of growth for vinyl album sales, climbing to 18.84 million sold. In 2020 alone, total vinyl album sales sit at 4.88 million, which is up 42.2% from this time last year.