Music CD Sales Slide 20 Pct Over Holidays

For anyone who hadn’t noticed, sales of traditional music CDs are on the decline, and new numbers from Nielsen Soundscan are pointing out just how much. According to figures reported in Variety, music CD sales plummeted 21.4 percent from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve compared to the same period in 2006.

Nonetheless, these figures represent 83.9 million albums sold during that period—not exactly chump change. Nonetheless, the 2007 holiday sales figures seem to indicate that gift-giving consumers are increasingly turning away from the traditional music CD and towards digital music purchases through iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody, and other online music services, including purchases through mechanisms like the seemingly ubiquitous iTunes gift cards.

The music industry has had a testy relationship with online sales, chafing against fixed pricing at Apple’s iTunes music store while at the same time decrying digital music as a hotbed of piracy and copyright infringement. Nonetheless, three of the four major music labels are testing online sales of music in DRM-free MP3 format.

And the top-selling album of the holiday season? Josh Groban’s Noel, which has managed to sell 3.5 million copies and spend five weeks at the top of the album chart.

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