iTunes finished 2013 on a low note as digital music sales saw a decrease for the first time since the store first opened up for listeners around the world, according to Billboard.
Nielsen SoundScan reported that for the entire year of 2013, digital track sales fell 5.7 % from 1.34 billion units to 1.26 billion units, fulfilling expectations after the first three quarters met weaker sales. However, more surprisingly, digital album sales fell by .1%, pushing 117.7 units in 2012 to 117.6 million units by the end of last year
Despite the e-decline, R&B and rap artists still managed to make good numbers. Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience was the only album in 2013 that reached more than a million units, with 2.4 million units sold. R&B, which houses rap, was the only genre that saw an increase in sales in 2013, moving 50.1 million units in 2012 to 50.7 million units.
As for overall album sales for the year, 2013 saw an 8.4% decrease, with 289.4 million units as compared to the 316 million units sold in 2012.
Billboard says the decline in digital music sales may be due to the fact that listeners have the option to stream albums and songs now. Even though the annual streaming numbers have yet to be released from SoundScan, industry executives have said that the growth in streaming revenue is offsetting the decline in digital sales revenue.