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U.S. music sales climbed 3.1 percent in 2012, with digital-music purchases helping make up for a plunge in demand for physical albums, according to industry tracker Nielsen.

Purchases of albums, singles, music videos and digital tracks rose to 1.66 billion last year, Nielsen said. Sales of digital albums, which are offered through Apple Inc.’s iTunes and other sites, climbed 14 percent. Physical-music sales, including compact discs, cassettes and LP records, dropped 13 percent.

Even after years of slumping CD sales, physical formats remain the dominant way that Americans buy albums, said David Bakula, a senior vice president at Nielsen. The best-selling record of 2012 was Adele’s “21,” the first album to get the top ranking two years in a row, he said.

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