According to a report from CNN Money, for the very first time in history, digital music sales have overtaken physical media sales. This news comes from a Nielsen and Billboard report, which found that 50.3% of music sales in 2011 were digital. This means that digital sales have risen 8.4% since last year and physical sales have fallen 5%.
According to the report, Lady Gaga was the most streamed artist of 2011. However, with 84.9 million audio streams and 71 million video streams Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" was the most streamed song of 2011.
There is an interesting trend that developed around the singer Adele's album 21, which was the top selling album of 2011, and not just digitally, but in physical sells as well. What is interesting is that Adele's album seems to have sparked an interest in purchasing whole albums again. For the first time since 2004, seven years ago, total album sales rose.
With this news, it definitely seems that there is no fight digital distribution as the way of the future. It's a double-edged sword really. With digital distribution and services like Pandora and Spotify, people are listening to and discovering more music than ever before, but they are listening to it in lower quality than past technologies. However, the more digital distribution advances, the better the technology will become. Hopefully, this means higher resolution downloads that are easier to download and enjoy.