Eminem leads rap sales surge in 2010

Updated: Jan 07, 2011, 12:55 PM IST

New York: While there was plenty of dispiriting news in Nielsen SoundScan`s year-end numbers for 2010, there were a couple of bright spots: For one, rap music made a big comeback last year, driven by the top-selling album of the year, Eminem`s "Recovery," and the non-traditional store sector became the No. 1 retail channel.

While its bump was not huge -- just 3 percent -- rap was the only genre to post an album-sales increase last year, scanning 27.3 million units, up from 26.4 million units in the prior year -- and five straight years of declining sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

In 2009, there was a nearly 21 percent drop from 2008`s 33.4 million sales, continuing a plunge from 2007`s 41.7 million, 2006`s 59.5 million and 2005`s total scans of 75.1 million. Moreover, in each of those years, the rap decline was larger than the overall U.S. album market`s decline.

Along with Eminem`s 3.415 million sales for the year, other big sellers in the genre include Drake`s "Thank Me Later" (1.27 million), Kanye West`s "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" (882,000), Nicki Minaj`s "Pink Friday" (852,000) and Lil Wayne`s "Rebirth" (710,000) and "I Am Not a Human Being" (664,000), according to Nielsen SoundScan.

It`s all a far cry from the way that rap began the new millennium: It sold 107 million units in 2000, racking up 13.6 percent of overall U.S. album sales. By contrast, hip-hop finished 2010 with 8.3 percent of all U.S. album sales.

Country also had a solid year, although the genre was down 5 percent to 43.7 million units from 2009`s total of 46.1 million units; all other large genres posted declines equal or worse than the overall album market.

For example, Christian/Gospel sales declined 13 percent to 24.2 million units, down from the 27.8 million units the genre garnered in 2009.

Meanwhile, rock, the largest genre tracked by SoundScan (it doesn`t track pop as a genre) saw its sales drop 16 percent to 103.7 million units, down from 124.2 million in the prior year.

R&B suffered a similar decline to nearly 57.9 million units, down 17 percent from 70 million. However, SoundScan`s R&B totals includes rap sales; excluding those, R&B 30.5 million in 2010 was down a whopping 30 percent from the 43.3 million scanned in 2009.

Bureau Report