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Catalog Albums Outsell New Records Online for the First Time

Beatles Albums
Mario Tama, Getty Images

It’s no secret that the sales of albums have seen a steep decline over the past decade. But now there’s a new wrinkle in that equation. For the first time, sales of catalog albums eclipsed those of new records.

Music Business Worldwide reports that in 2014, 53.6 million catalog albums were sold online compared with 52.9 million new albums. Since 2005, the start of their study, older records had perpetually lagged behind new releases, with the exception of a brief period in 2012.

For physical sales, however, new albums are still more popular, selling 77.6 million compared with 73 million. But given that in 2005 there were nearly 380 million physical frontline releases sold, the article says that this could be “a serious worry for the industry in the future.” If the trend continues at this rate, the report continues, catalog record sales will likely overtake new ones by 2016, if not this year.

This doesn’t necessarily suggest that more people are buying classic rock. After all, an older record by, say, Taylor Swift is considered a catalog album. And AC/DC’s ‘Rock or Bustdebuted at No. 3 in early December and has since dropped to No. 58, while Swift’s ‘1989’ remains at No. 2.

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