Here’s a depressing stat for anyone who still cares about the fate of the album: 99.991% of the population of the United States did not buy last week’s No.1 album on the Billboard 200.
Drake’s Scorpion sold (as in, pure sales) little over 29,000 copies in the last chart sales week, ending July 12.
There were at least one or two extenuating circumstances: Scorpion, originally released on streaming services on June 29, wasn’t officially issued on CD until July 13 – the 29,000 sum was almost entirely made up of digital downloads, with a few street-date-breaking CD sales from a handful of retailers.
In addition, July is obviously a very quiet time for the music business, following a flurry of big-hitting streaming album in the States this year from the likes of Drake, Post Malone, Migos and J.Cole.
But still. That 29,000 tally represents approximately 0.009% of the total US population (326m) – or, to put it another way, less than one in every 10,000 people.
Such stats will inevitably lead to the oft-repeated question: when does the point of having a US ‘No.1-selling’ album actually stop mattering?
That’s a query which may also have been raised in UK label offices this morning.
According to Official Charts Company figures, Scorpion grabbed the British No.1 spot on the Official Albums Charts on Friday (June 20) with ‘equivalent album sales’ of 29,393.
Of this number, however, 22,806 album ‘sales’ weren’t actually album sales at all: they were adjudicated as such by the OCC based on cumulative single-track streams.
Which means… the ‘No.1-selling’ album in the UK last week actually sold… a grand total of 6,587 copies.
In a country of 66m people, that also represents less than one in every 10,000 consumers.
According to stats from Nielsen, physical album sales in the US in the first half of 2018 fell 14.6% year-on-year (in volume terms), despite a double-digit bump in vinyl sales.
Digital album sales volume fell 21.7% year-on-year in H1 2018, down to 27.5m.
From H1 2015 to H1 2018, total album sales on all formats fell by 40.7%.