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Old records outsell new ones for the first time

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.

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.

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Joe Cox

Joe is Content Director for Specialist Tech at Future and was previously the Global Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi?. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? across print and online for more than 15 years, writing news, reviews and features. He has covered product launch events across the world, from Apple to Technics, Sony and Samsung, reported from CES, the Bristol Show and Munich High End for many years, and provided comment for sites such as the BBC and the Guardian. In his spare time he enjoys mixing vinyl and cycling.