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U.S. Music Sales Shrank 2.4 Percent Last Year as CDs Continue to Dwindle

U.S. music sales fell 2.4 percent last year as consumers continued to abandon physical CDs and increased their spending online.

Consumers bought 1.51 billion albums, singles, music videos and digital tracks in 2010, down from 1.55 billion in 2009, according to Nielsen SoundScan data. Digital music accounted for 46 percent of all music purchases in 2010, up from 40 percent in 2009 and 32 percent in 2008, the researcher said.

Aside from rap, album sales in every music genre declined in 2010. Universal Music Group sold 3.42 million copies of rapper Eminem’s “Recovery,” the top-selling album of the year, Nielsen SoundScan said. Universal Music, part of Paris-based Vivendi SA, garnered 31 percent of 2010 album sales, extending its lead over Sony Music, part of Tokyo-based Sony Corp., which generated 28 percent.

Digital track sales increased 1 percent to 1.17 million units, while digital album sales grew by 13 percent to 86.3 million, Nielsen SoundScan said. Total album sales, including CDs, fell 13 percent to 326.2 million copies.

Katy Perry’s song “California Gurls” sold 4.4 million copies for EMI Group Ltd., the most singles by any artist. Taylor Swift, who records on Big Machine Records and is distributed by Universal Music, was the top-selling artist with 4.47 million albums in 2010, Nielsen SoundScan said.

Vivendi slid 19 cents to 20.67 euros today in Paris trading. The shares have climbed 2.3 percent this year. Sony’s American depositary receipts rose 5 cents to $36.21 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Closely held EMI is based in London.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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