Nielsen: Digital Downlaods Drive Music Sales Up in 2011

Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold the boat a minute, young fella. We like to fancy ourselves an intelligent bunch, but something just isn't adding up. According to market research firm The Nielsen Company, music sales in the U.S. are up 1.6 percent in 2011. The reason, Nielsen says, has a lot to do with the explosive growth of digital album and track sales.

How can that be if, as the RIAA would have us believe, starving artists are out in the streets begging for handouts as piracy kills the music business? We're embellishing a bit here, sure, but the point we're making is that the RIAA's fear mongering needs to stop. Let's look at some more stats.

According to Nielsen, digital album and track purchases jumped 16.8 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively. Nielsen says digital retailers received more than half of all music transactions, propelling a 12.4 percent growth in sales over last year.

Despite the RIAA proclaiming the sky is falling due to piracy, vinyl album sales increased 37 percent in the beginning of 2011 compared to the same period one year prior, and have never been higher. (Image Credit: Nielsen)

"Strong releases and aggressive promotions by the labels and retailers are among the many contributing factors to the strength we're seeing in the music industry," said Dave Bakula, SVP Analytics, Entertainment for The Nielsen Company. "Overall, the data reflects a continuing strong demand by music consumers."

In short, as long as artists crank out quality tunes, music lovers will support them with their wallets. What a novel concept, eh?