Music Industry

2018 album sales were shockingly low. VERY low.

As the rest of us struggle with post-holiday grogginess, the music industry is tallying the numbers from 2018. Combing through the reports reveals some interesting facts.

Eminem sold more physical albums in the U.S. than anyone else between January 1 and December 31, 2018, moving a cumulative total of 755,000 units. K-pop band BTS was second (603,000) followed by Metallica (540,000).

In the old days, those numbers would have represented a healthy one-week total.

If we also bring digital into the picture, the biggest-selling album in America was The Greatest Showman soundtrack with 1.27 million units, making it the only album to see more than a million copies last year.

Compare that to 2014 when every album in the top ten sold at least a million copies–and one sold more than three million. That’s how much things have changed in just five years.

Finally, here is the list of the top-selling vinyl in the U.S. through 2018.

1. Various – Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol 1
2. Michael Jackson – Thriller
3. The Beatles – Abbey Road
4. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
5. Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain
6. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
7. Tony Bennett & Diana Krall – Love Is Here To Stay
8. Queen – Greatest Hits 1
9. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
10. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Legend

So what did it take to make this chart? Look at it this way: The #1 album sold 47,155 units.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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2 thoughts on “2018 album sales were shockingly low. VERY low.

  • There is also a large number of existing copies of classic albums out there. I wonder how the figures would look if they accounted for second hand sales. Sometimes it makes more sense to drop $15 on a good used vinyl than $40-50 on a new one. Though if you look, you’ll find deals — like Metallica, Pink Floyd and even Amy Wine House…the local shop has a lot of their albums for under $30. Heck…I got 2 new Metallica albums each under $20!

  • Hello, Johnny Hallyday (the French Elvis) sold more than a million of CD in 2018 (and a lot of vinyls). “Mon pays c’est l’amour” was his new release one year after his death…


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