My, oh my. Is the world ending? Is the sky falling? What, exactly, is going on here? New data from tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan has proven that U.S. music album sales are up for the first six months of 2011, compared to a year ago. That's the first time this has happened since 2004, over a half-decade ago. It's pretty wild to think that record sales have somehow turned around in a world that's both increasingly digital and now slammed with a myriad cloud storage options. The numbers weren't huge; they only rose four percent, but any increase is a big increase for the record labels.
Overall album sales jumped to 221.5 million units from 213.6 million a year ago, and that number also includes CDs and digital albums. Another wrinkle here is that Nielsen counts 10 tracks sold individually as one album, and we suspect that singles did quite well on iTunes and the like. Adele's "21" was top seller (2.5m units), while Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" came in second with 1.5m units. Of course, that had a lot to do with Amazon's $0.99 promotion for that album, but hey -- discounted sales are probably better than no sales, right?