Sales of albums over 18 months old have this year outsold new records for the first time since Nielsen began keeping records in 1991

Old albums are outselling new ones for the first time in over 20 years.

Nielsen Soundscan, which began logging music sales in 1991, says 2012 has seen catalogue records – defined in the industry as being more than 18 months old – outselling new records for the first time.

The first six months of the year saw sales of 76.6 million 'old' albums in the US compared to 73.9 million new albums.

The phenomenon has been attributed to increasingly discounted record prices and a relatively weak first half of the year for big-name releases.

Nielsen analyst David Bakula pointed out to US site OC Weekly (via Hypebot) that this was despite the fact that Adele's 21, still considered current due to its January 2011 release, has – incredibly – sold a million more copies in 2012 than it had at this point in 2011.

More after the break

The top-selling legacy records of the year so far include Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits and four records by Whitney Houston, sales of which were boosted by her death in February.

150.5 million albums were sold in the first half of the year in the US, a drop of 3.2% compared to the first half of 2011, though interestingly total figures for digital album sales grew 13.8 percent.

Follow whathifi.com on Twitter

Join whathifi.com on Facebook