Music listeners these days are moving in large numbers to streaming services, cut back on digital downloads and stopped buying physical – except vinyl. At least, that’s what we can determine of listening habits according to the figures from the mid-year music sales report in the US.

The latest data from Nielsen Soundscan, tracking album sales, singles sales, airplay, streams, and digital downloads for the six month period from 30th December, 2013 through to 29th June, 2014 shows a general trend in the American music sector that mirrors Australia’s 2013 sales year, it’s worst decline ever.

Generally, while the revenue from digital music sales and subscription based streaming platforms continues to grow, the concern is that it doesn’t seem to be happening at a pace quick enough to offset the sharp decline from physical music.

As Billboard reports, compared to last year, the first six months of 2014 saw overall album sales dropping 14.9%, from 235 million (in 2013) to 227 million. That includes digital album sales, which reached 113.2 million units in the first half of 2014, a decline of 15.9 million from the 129 million tallied in the equivalent sales period in 2013.

All the more depressing when you consider last year’s album sales hit an all-time low, dropping to the worst stretch in album sales in the 20 years since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales.

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So what albums are people actually buying? The top selling release of 2014 so far – shifting nearly four times more than the next best selling album of the first six months – was none other that the soundtrack for animated Disney movie, Frozen, chiefly thanks to the success of Oscar-winning hit ‘Let It Go’.

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A staggering 2.7 million copies of Frozen have been sold so far this year, easily dwarfing best-selling albums from the likes of Beyoncé (at #2 with 702,000 units of her self-titled surprise album), Eric Church (#3 for Outsiders’ 642,000 units), Lorde (#4 with Pure Heroine‘s 641,000 units) and Coldplay (at #5 for Ghost Stories’ 589,000 units).

In fact those five albums were the only releases this year that have cracked the 500k mark, compared to 11 albums that achieved the same feat in 2013. But more concerning is that only 11 albums in the Top 20 were actually released in 2014.

The success of vinyl however is still a drop in the ocean compared to overall sales…

One beacon for the album format comes in the form of vinyl, with its resurgence showing no signs of abating as LP sales increased by 40% in 2014 compared to last year’s record-setting pace. While there are nearly no independent releases in the overall Top 20 selling albums list, rock and indie artists dominate the list of 2014’s Top 10 selling vinyl releases.

Jack White’s Lazaretto ‘Ultra LP’ is the best selling vinyl release so far – shifting over 49,100 copies, breaking a 20 year old sales record in the process as previously reported -followed by (in order) Arctic Monkeys’ 2013 album AM, the new LPs from Beck, The Black Keys, and Lana Del Rey. Then there’s two top-selling reissues (Bob Marley’s Legend and The Beatles’ Abbey Road) and rounding out the Top 10 is LordePure Heroine, Mac DeMarco’s Salad Days and St. Vincent’s self-titled fourth album.

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The success of vinyl however is still a drop in the ocean compared to overall sales, while it continues to grow, it doesn’t have the million-units-shifting sway and revenue that CDs and even DVDs once did. So while album sales continue to decline, paid downloads of singles didn’t fare much better, and have dropped by 15%, with 593.6 million digital songs being sold in the US in the first six months of 2014, down from the 682.2 million in 2013.

The upside is that on-demand streaming services to show strong growth, with revenue music subscription platforms growing by 42% as more and more consumers make the jump from iTunes and digital download platforms to the likes of Pandora, Spotify, and Beats Music.

“With On-Demand streams surpassing 70 billion songs in the first six months of 2014, streaming continues to be an increasingly significant portion of the music industry,” says David Bakula, Senior Vice President Nielsen Entertainment, emphasising the positives of the mid-year report.

“Streaming’s 42% year-over-year growth and Vinyl LP’s 40% increase over last year’s record-setting pace shows interest in buying and consuming music continues to be robust, with two very distinct segments of the industry expanding substantially.”

Top 20 Selling Albums Of 2014 So Far:

01. Frozen Soundtrack
02. Beyoncé – Beyoncé
03. Eric Church – The Outsiders
04. Lorde – Pure Heroine
05. Coldplay – Ghost Stories
06. Various Artists – Now 49
07. Luke Bryan – Crash My Party
08. Katy Perry – Prism
09. Various Artists – Now 50
10. Pharrell – G I R L
11. Imagine Dragons – Night Visions
12. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP 2
13. Brantley Gilbert – Just As I Am
14. Florida Georgia Line – Here’s To the Good Times
15. Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox
16. Rick Ross – MasterMind
17. Michael Jackson – Xscape
18. The Black Keys – Turn Blue
19. Various Artists – 2014 Grammy Nominees
20. Miranda Lambert – Plantinum

Top 10 Selling Vinyl Albums Of 2014 So Far:

01. Jack White – Lazaretto (49,100 units)
02. Arctic Monkeys – AM (25,100 units)
03. Beck – Morning Phase (21,300 units)
04. The Black Keys – Turn Blue (21,000 units)
05. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence (16,500 units)
06. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Legend (13,000 units)
07. The Beatles – Abbey Road (12,600 units)
08. Lorde – Pure Heroine (12,400 units)
09. Mac DeMarco – Salad Days (11,900 units)
10. St. Vincent – St. Vincent (11,400 units)

Top 10 Selling Digital Songs Of 2014 So Far:

01. Pharrell Williams – ‘Happy’ (5,633,000 units)
02. Katy Perry – ‘Dark Horse’ (feat. Juicy J) (4,004,000 units)
03. John Legend – ‘All Of Me’ (3,854,000 units)
04. Jason DeRule – ‘Talk Dirty’ (feat. 2 Chainz) (3,657,000 units)
05. Indina Menzel – ‘Let It Go’ (2,854,000 units)
06. DJ Snake & Lil’ Jon – ‘Turn Down For What’ (2,573,000 units)
07. Iggy Azalea – ‘Fancy’ (feat. Charli XCX) (2,533,000 units)
08. Bastille – ‘Pompeii’ (2,321,000 units)
09. Aloe Blacc – ‘Man’ (2,263,000 unitss)
10. Pitbull – ‘Timber’ (feat. Ke$ha) (2,189,000 units)

Top 10 Most Streamed Songs Of 2014 So Far:

(combines audio and video streams)
01. Katy Perry – ‘Dark Horse’ (feat. Juicy J) (188,236,000 streams)
02. John Legend – ‘All Of Me’ (144,669,000 streams)
03. Jason DeRule – ‘Talk Dirty’ (feat. 2 Chainz) (142,478,000 streams)
04. Pharrell Williams – ‘Happy’ (135,197,000 streams)
05. Indina Menzel – ‘Let It Go’ (129,128,000 streams)
06. Iggy Azalea – ‘Fancy’ (feat. Charli XCX) (111,911,000 streams)
07. Pitbull – ‘Timber’ (feat. Ke$ha) (106,081,000 streams)
08. Bastille – ‘Pompeii’ (2,321,000 units)
09. Aloe Blacc – ‘Man’ (2,263,000 unitss)
10. Pitbull – ‘Timber’ (feat. Ke$ha) (2,189,000 units)

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