Katy Perry Sells Most Digital Singles in Dismal Year For Record Sales

CDs and album numbers plummet; downloads up modestly

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The record industry is still in very bad shape. Over the course of 2010, album sales in the United States fell 12.8 percent, to 326.2 million units from 373.9 million units in the previous year, according to sales figures released by Nielsen SoundScan.

Though there is plenty in the SoundScan report to inspire panic in record executives, there is some good news. Sales of individual digital tracks grew by a modest 1 percent — five tracks topped  four million units, and seven others sold over three million copies. The year's top selling track, Katy Perry's summer hit "California Gurls," sold 4.4 million downloads. However, those sales fall just behind the performance of two Black Eyed Peas singles in 2009, "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling."

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CD sales were especially hard hit by the overall sales decline, falling nearly 20 percent for the fourth year in a row. Digital sales are relatively healthy by comparison, at least showing signs of modest growth. Digital album sales increased by 13 percent to 86.3 million units, accounting for just over a quarter of all album sales in the year.

But only 13 albums — including those by Eminem, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga — managed to sell more than a million copies in the year, an all-time low in the history of SoundScan.

U.S. Album Sales Fall 12.8% in 2010, Digital Tracks Eke Out 1% Gain [Billboard]