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This is the worst year for album sales since Nielsen began collecting sales data

But that doesn't mean people aren't listening.

- Jul 7, 2016

The sky is falling. The industry's worst fears have come true: nobody is buying records. U.S. albums sales have reached the lowest point since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking movement in 1991, Billboard reports. Death is surely near.

Half-way through 2016, album sales are down 16.9% from last year. This figure includes track equivalent albums (or TEA, where 10 individual digital track sales equal one album sale). Album sales so far total 100.3 million units, about half of which is made up of CD sales. Digital sales account for 43.8 million (down from 53.7 million this time last year), while the vinyl boom pushes $6.2 million units, growing 11.4% from the first half of 2015.

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old music

Old music is outselling new music for the first time in history

As we've noted, old music is outselling new music. New releases have sold 20.2% worse than 2015, comprising 44.1 million units of the total, while catalog albums represented 56.2 million sales. Drake, Adele, and Beyoncé are the only artists to crack a million units in sales.

None of this, however, means that fewer people are listening. From January to July 6, listeners streamed 208.9 billion songs (the equivalent of 139.2 million album units), an increase of 58.7% from that period last year. Total album consumption, including TEA, stream equivalent albums and overall album units, is 279.9 million units — up 8.9% from last year. Just look at what it's done for Billboard's charts... and for Drake.

And better news, Billboard estimates that industry revenue is actually up — $1.98 billion from last year's $1.82 billion.

So, not so fast, Chicken Littles. You're looking at this all wrong.

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