Another bad spin for discs

U.S. album sales post double-digit decline at midyear

It wasn't as steep as last year's drop, but U.S. album sales posted another double-digit decline at midyear.

Sales plunged 11% to 204.6 million units for the six months ending June 29, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That compares with 229.8 million units scanned in the first half last year, which was down 15.1% from the same period in 2006.

This year's drop is fueled largely by the 16.3% decrease in CD sales, but digital sales continue to be a bright spot. Downloads posted a 34.4% increase to 31.6 million units. Sales of digital tracks jumped 30% to 532.7 million units in the first half. That compares with the 417.3 million recorded in the six-month period ending July 1, 2007.

The top-selling album at midyear was Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III," with 1.5 million scans in only three weeks of release. Jack Johnson's "Sleep Through the Static" was next at 1.2 million, followed by Mariah Carey's "E=MC2" at 1.1 million.

They were the year's only

million-sellers at the midpoint, but two other discs were poised to join them: Alicia Keys' 2007 set "As I Am" (986,000 sold in 2008) and Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" (971,000 after only two weeks).

Six albums had topped the million mark at this point last year.

Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" was the best-selling track at 2.6 million units. Flo Rida's "Low," featuring T-Pain, was second with 2.4 million, followed by Jordan Sparks "No Air" duet with Chris Brown, which clocked 2.1 million.

Universal Music Group continues to dominate U.S. market share in the first six months, with 31.2%. Sony BMG Music Entertainment was next with 24.8%, followed by WEA -- the only major to post a year-over-year gain, up a tick from 20% to 20.8% -- and EMI (9.4%).

The indies where the only other group besides WEA to gain market share, finishing collectively with 13.9%, up from the 12.9% it garnered in the first half of last year.