Billboard has been crunching Nielsen SoundScan data to identify ongoing trends in digital album sales. The results aren’t good. “Digital album sales aren’t falling off a cliff, but they are experiencing a sustained decline for the first time,” explains analyst Glenn Peoples. He outlines three consecutive quarters of negative growth in US digital album unit sales – down 5% in the first quarter, down 7% in Q2 and down 3% in Q4. While the report warns that this isn’t a disaster – more a sign that the download market has ‘become mature’ – it suggests that the numbers should be putting extra pressure on labels and publishers to ‘speed the arrival of next-generation products and services’. Another point worth making: digital album sales are one important metric for the industry, but one to be considered alongside other revenue streams – for example streaming subscriptions, YouTube payouts, sync revenues…

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