Thanks to digital media download services like iTunes, digital download sales have become more popular than physical media, making up a little more than half the total sales of music.
The Nielsen Company released their annual report showing that 50.3% of all music sales in 2011 were of the downloaded variety, and digital album sales broke the 100 million download mark. Single track downloads raked in $1.27 billion in revenue.
The total amount of digital sales were up 8.4% while physical sales dropped 5%.
According to an article posted on The Guardian, Amazon.com and iTunes were responsible for 31% of all digital music sales, which nearly equaled the business that the leading physical music retailers Wal-Mart and Target saw. Ironically, vinyl sales also saw a resurgence, claiming 1.2% of total album sales with 3.9 million units sold. The number rose from 2010's total of 2.8 million units.
The Nielsen report also showed that the top selling genre of music was rock music, with over 10 million units sold. The greatest jump in sales from 2010 to 2011 belongs to jazz music, up 26.2% from 800,000 units sold in 2010 to a little over 1.1 million in 2011.
The top selling artists of 2011 included Adele, Justin Bieber, Michael Buble, Lady Gaga, and Lil' Wayne.
The Nielsen Company specializes in tracking trends and sales for television, movies, music, radio, telecommunications, and consumer products.