Credit: Lauren Dukoff

At the halfway point of 2011, it shouldn’t be surprising that Adele’s 21 is the top-selling album of the year. But did you know that thanks to that big boost, alongwith solid entries by the likes of Lady Gaga and Mumford & Sons, album sales are actually up for the first time in seven years?

According to the mid-year report published by Nielsen SoundScan, a few more than 155 million albums have moved in the first six months of 2011, compared to the just under 154 million that sold during the same time in 2010. That’s a whopping one percent gain!

It’s always good to be up, but considering album sales have been in total freefall for years (at this time last year, sales were down 11 percent compared to the same time in 2009), there was really no place to go but up.

There are some real reasons to celebrate, though. In the same week that Eminem’s Recovery became the first album to sell over a million digital copies, overall digital track sales are up 11 percent over last year. The first part of 2011 also marks the first time that a song has sold over four million digital copies in six months, and it actually happened twice (if you guessed Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Katy Perry’s “E.T.,” give yourself a pat on the back for not being in a coma this year).

There are other signs of life too, as catalog sales are up seven percent (meaning that people are just as interested in old music as they are in new stuff) and vinyl sales are up a whopping 41 percent (which means that people also want to hear music on old technology). That vinyl figure is a little inflated, considering it only represents a hair under two million total big black discs sold, but the music industry will take what they can get.

Finally, anybody who doesn’t particularly care for Lady Gaga’s brand of pop revivalism (we know you’re out there, lurking in the comments section) can feel good that album sales would still be up a hair even if Born This Way hadn’t had its massive million-selling opening week.

For those keeping score at home, the 10 biggest selling albums of 2011 so far are Adele’s 21, Gaga’s Born This Way, Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More, Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party, Bruno Mars’ Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never: The Remixes, Chris Brown’s F.A.M.E., Now 37, Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday and Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream.

The top-selling singles are Katy Perry’s “E.T.,” Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” Cee-Lo Green’s “F— You,” Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Rihanna’s “S&M,” Jennifer Lopez’s “On the Floor,” the Black Eyed Peas’ “Just Can’t Get Enough,” Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now,” Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” and Perry’s “Firework.”

What do you think of the music sales progress report? Does the quality of the music match the robustness of the sales? Let us know what you think of the year so far in the comments below.


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