Old album sales a 'worrying trend' for music industry

‘Old’ albums outsold current releases on iTunes in America last year, new figures reveal.

Music Business Worldwide reports that it is the first time catalogue releases have sold more than new albums over the course of a full year – with a previous victory for old records during one month in 2012 considered a “momentary blip.”

One example of a catalogue album selling well is Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits – originally released in 1993 – which is currently in the iTunes top 100 albums chart.

Industry expert Tim Ingham says it’s a worrying trend for the music business and adds that it’s only a matter of time before catalogue records outsell new releases on physical formats such as CD and vinyl as well as online.

He says: “Such data asks two very clear questions of record labels: are people merely starting to consume their new music on streaming services rather than buying it in album form? Or are they increasingly less impressed with the new album releases that arrive year-in, year-out?

“One thing looks certain. It now only appears a matter of time – very possibly in 2015 – when catalogue albums outsell new releases across all formats in a single year.

“If the decline in current album sales continues at its current pace, catalogue albums will almost certainly outsell new albums on all formats by 2016, and possibly even in 2015.”

The figures, compiled by Neilson, reveal that 53.6million digital catalogue albums were sold in the US in 2014, as opposed to 52.9million new releases.

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.