Rihanna, Adele and Katy Perry are among the female stars who helped dig the business out of a seven-year sales slump.
You could say the music business had a banner year. Really. For the first time since 2004, overall album sales were up, to the tune of 4 percent. Of that, digital album purchases increased by nearly 20 percent and track sales by 9 percent, and while CD sales were down 5 percent, it was a far less toxic number than the double-digit declines of the past decade.
Who's to credit? Adele, for one. In 2011, the British singer sold 5 million copies of her Grammy-nominated sophomore effort, 21 -- 33 percent of them digital -- which seems to indicate the album format isn't doomed. "Adele's achievement across so many genres and platforms dispels the death-knell notion," says Jim Donio, president of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, which tracks the market.
He calls the current climate a "healthy rebound" but stops short of using the word "turnaround": "Google, Spotify, Facebook, those all underscore the digital surge -- the immediate gratification of paying to download a track. Yet people still embrace albums. Look at Taylor Swift with Speak Now or Katy Perry with Teenage Dream."
Indeed, Swift moved 3.8 million copies of her third album, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Perry has seen five singles from her second full-length top the charts, tying Michael Jackson for the record and totaling 15 million downloads. And Rihanna released two hit albums to bookend the year, racking up sales of 1.9 million. "These girls have become brands on a global scale," says Donio. "They're all dominant in their own way and bring with them an interesting cross-section of fans."
In pop, 2011 was the year of the female singer: Adele, Lady Gaga, Perry, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, even Britney Spears pulled off radio hits -- still the surest way to boost sales, along with TV exposure. Combined, these seven sisters sold 52.5 million downloads. They also toured their vocal cords raw, spent millions on videos and performed at every awards show imaginable. The effort paid off.
Word-of-mouth had an impact, too, but not the old-fashioned kind. Buzz spread via social media and music-sharing services, while a move toward fair pricing, aided by Groupon's discounted concert tickets, also contributed to profits. The jury's still out on Amazon's 99-cent two-day sale of Lady Gaga's Born This Way, however. While it spurred sales of a million copies in week one, it took seven months to double that number. It's unclear how the P&L shook out, and Billboard has disqualified such fire sales from its charts.
Women made their strong identities known across multiple mediums, including movies (The Help, Bridesmaids) and TV (New Girl, Whitney), but in the music world, fantasy was key. A decade after 9/11, escapism seems alive and well as Gaga, Perry and Minaj developed costumed alter egos as superheroes and femme fatales. "These women are successful because the music is great, but people also gravitate to the persona," says Donio. Adele, on the other hand, aims for the opposite end of the realism spectrum. She's the relatable "girl who's just like you," he opines. "21 is a work of art." Bottom line: Music truly offered something for everybody.
Their male counterparts were a tough-talking crew including Lil Wayne (his Tha Carter IV moved 964,000 units its first week and another million within four months), Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake, Wiz Khalifa and DJ Khaled -- rappers from New Orleans, Toronto, Brooklyn and Chicago regaling a new generation of suburbanites with tales of their hopes and dreams (namely, money and real estate). On the flip side, Chris Brown saw career redemption with F.A.M.E. and graduated from R&B teen to hard-core hip-hop artist. His ode to cars, girls and cash, "Look at Me Now," was the No. 3 song of the year, according to Billboard, proving that hip-hop braggadocio remains popular and profitable. But in this economic climate, 2011's music stars will want to invest wisely. In the words of Drake (as heard on Khaled's current hit, "I'm On One"), whose album Take Care moved a million units since November and is poised to be among 2012's biggest hits: "Get it while you're here, 'cause all that hype don't feel the same next year."
Mediatraffic, sweetie. Confirmed on the forum by an adminstrator. Also, another source (less reliable) is Wikipedia. It lists sales at 15 million worldwide. Please research before you go around embarrassing yourself.
Its like your screaming, and noone can hear. You almost feel ashamed. That someone could be that important that without them you feel like nothing. Noone will ever understand how much it hurts. You feel HOPELESS. Like nothing can save you ...<3
Their stuff about Chris Brown at the end is just stupid. A "hard-core hip hop artist"? Have they not heard Beautiful People? lol And Look at Me Now is an ode to Chris's penis, not to "cars, girls and cash". I think they got it mixed up with Black and Yellow lol.
And also, I think this has been a BAD year for female artists.
Mainly because it's like 4 of them dominating absolutely everything. It's a bit boring. In the past, there used to be 20 female artists getting big hits each year AND male artists (Justin Timberlake, 50 Cent, etc.) were being successful too.