Album Sales Drop to Lowest Point During Coronavirus Pandemic

Album sales dropped dramatically amid the coronavirus pandemic, in their worst week in decades.

According to Billboard, album sales dropped 29 percent in the past week with only 1.52 million records sold in the past week. The sales tally takes CDs, vinyl records, cassettes, and digital sales into account.

The number marks the lowest sales since Nielsen/MRC Data began tracking such figures in 1991. Billboard also noted that this possibly indicates the lowest sales week since album sales began booming in the 1960's.

The Recording Industry Association of America did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

Billboard reported that physical album sales suffered, dropping 36 percent. The March 19 sale figures dipped below the previous lowest album sales, which were in July 2019, when physical albums only garnered 1.05 million sales.

Unsurprisingly, music lovers have been putting their streaming services to good use. Fans often opt to use Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube to listen to music rather than buying physical albums or digital downloads. In 2019, songs streamed passed a trillion listens for the first time ever. Album streams in 2020 are already up nearly 20 percent to what they were a year ago. So far, 267.75 billion songs have been streamed in the year.

Still, there is a silver lining. For those being stuck inside at home, there hasn't been a better time to sit in and let a vinyl record play front to back. Vinyl sales have been on the rise for the past 14 years, and 2020 has been no different. Thus far 4.88 million vinyl records have been sold in 2020, a 42 percent increase from 2019 to date. According to Billboard, vinyl accounts for 22.6 percent of all albums sold and 33 percent of physical albums sold.

Customers shop for special edition vinyl records at Dusty Groove music store during the Record Store Day in Chicago on April 13, 2019. Album sales took a dramatic drop amidst the coronavirus pandemic. KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/Getty

Besides the dip in album sales, concerts and other musical events have been cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future. Record Store Day, a celebration of independent record stores where fans can purchase exclusive vinyl pressings, was postponed from its scheduled April date to June.

"We think this gives stores around the world the best chance to have a profitable, successful Record Store Day, while taking into consideration the recommendations of doctors, scientists, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, and the need to be good citizens of both local and worldwide communities," the organizers behind Record Store Day said in a statement. "We're working with all of our partners and our stores to make this change as smooth as possible for everyone who participates in Record Store Day: customers, record stores, artists, labels and more. "