News flash: the album as a viable music format is on its death bed. According to an article in today’s New York Times [via Idolator.com] digital sales are way up and physical CD sales are way down. Some other factoids from the article:

  • Sales of full albums, both physical and digital together, are down a total of 16% from this time last year.
  • In 2006 digital singles outsold plastic CDs for the first time.
  • So far this year, sales of digital songs have risen 54 percent, to roughly 189 million units.
  • Digital singles outsell digital albums 19 to 1.
  • Individual songs account for roughly two thirds of all music sales volume in the US.

As a surprise to absolutely no one, the article goes on to say that despite the huge increase in digital sales volume, these sales are not making up the monetary ground lost by slumping physical sales. It stands to reason that the album as a format for music is just about done, with more and more fans who don’t want album filler downloading single tracks. The article does however single out metal as a genre whose fans may continue to support the album:

Many music executives dispute the idea that the album will disappear. In particular, they say, fans of jazz, classical, opera and certain rock (bands like Radiohead and Tool) will demand album-length listening experiences for many years to come.

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