Despite reports of the album's demise, the format sold 373.9 million (which is still a very substantial figure), but individual digital track sales are even better with more than 1.1 billion in 2009, up 8.3% from 2008 .
Nielsen also reports that 89 digital songs exceeded the 1 million sales mark in 2009, compared with 71 songs in 2008. Not only that, 2009 marked the first time a song broke the 4 million sales mark in a single year, which happened by not one, but four singles -- "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Got a Feeling" from the Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" and Flo Rida's "Right Round."
Sounds pretty good doesn't it? But the devil is in the details. Of course the number of sales were up, but that doesn't mean revenue was as well, and industry growth is definitely slowing. Album sales dropped another 12.7% from the previous year, which is not a figure that the industry wants to hear, but digital music is still on the rise as it accounted for 40% of all music purchases in 2009, up from 32% in 2008. That being said, digital album sales made up 20% of total album sales in 2009.
Who was the biggest seller of 2009? Michael Jackson, who racked up a total of 8.2 million album sales, which was significantly more than Taylor Swift's 4.6 million. After Jackson and Swift, The Beatles moved more than 3.28 million total units, followed by newcomer Susan Boyle (3.1 million), Lady Gaga (2.8 million), Andrea Bocelli (2.6 million), Michael Buble (2.28 million), Eminem (2.1 million), Carrie Underwood (1.8 million) and the Black Eyed Peas (1.88 million).
Lady Gaga was the year's top-selling digital artist, selling more than 15 million tracks and her album "The Fame" being the top-selling digital album of the year with 461,000 downloads.
What can we take from these figures? Music is still extremely popular and although it's a business in decline, it's still enormous. Of course it's changing, but it's not going away any time soon.