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Why U.S. Download Sales Peaked in 2011

Digital download sales are likely to increase again in 2013. But by one measure, downloads actually peaked in 2011. Download sales accounted for 73% of digital revenues in 2011 and fell to 70% last year, according to annual shipments tracked by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Not that download sales have declined over the years. Track and digital album sales have each grown every year since the RIAA began reporting them in 2004. As a percent of total revenue — counting both physical and digital revenue as well as synchronization royalties — download sales rose to 40% from 36% in 2011; 31% in 2010; and 24% in 2009.

Nor have download sales declined in dollars. In fact, annual download sales continue to grow each year. Track and album sales grew by $235 million last year and gained a combined $912 million in the three-year period of 2010 through 2012. Download revenue is likely to grow again in 2013 by very low single digits.

Read the full story: Billboard