This year has been a good one for the music industry, with digital music sales witnessing a steady growth. Worldwide online music revenue from end-user spending is on track to total $6.3 billion in 2011, up from $5.9 billion in 2010, according to Gartner. In the future, online music revenue is forecast to reach $6.8 billion in 2012 and grow to $7.7 billion in 2015.
In addition, U.S. album sales grew 3.3 percent to 228.5 million units in the first nine months of 2011, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Meanwhile, overall U.S. unit sales are up 7.2 percent to 1.18 billion.
Our top albums of 2011 are Foo Fighters' Wasting Light; Bon Iver's, James Blake's and Cults' self-titled offerings; tUnE-yArDs with W H O K I L L; Adele's 21; The Decemberists with The King is Dead; The Civil Wars' Barton Hollow; Little Dragon's Ritual Union and Cut Copy's Zonoscope.
Following is a brief description of our top 10 albums of 2011:
Foo Fighters, Wasting Light - Wasting Light, released in April 2011 on RCA Records, is the seventh studio album by American alternative rock band Foo Fighters. The album sold 235,000 units in its first week of release and debuted at Number One on the U.S. Billboard 200, becoming the band's first such album in the United States. On Nov. 30, the album was nominated for six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.
Bon Iver, Bon Iver - The self-titled album the American indie-folk band's second full-length album and was released on June 17. The Grammy-nominated album (for Best Alternative Music Album) entered the U.S. Billboard 200 at Number Two, selling 104,000 copies in the U.S. in its first week.
tUnE-yArDs, W H O K I L L - W H O K I L L is the second studio release by Merrill Garbus' experimental solo-project tUnE-yArDs. It was released on 4AD Records in April. The 10-track album was met with critical acclaim and positive reviews. It holds a current score of 86/100 on review-aggregator Metacritic. It was also listed as Best New Music by Pitchfork.
James Blake, James Blake - This is the London-based artist's debut studio album. Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, rated it 81/100, based on 38 reviews, which indicates universal acclaim.
Adele, 21 - This is the second album from English singer-songwriter Adele and was released in the U.S. in February, after selling 208,000 copies in its first week in the UK, where it was released the previous month. The album debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200 in the U.S., selling 352,000 copies in its first week. The album has charted at Number One in 17 countries, including several charts across Europe, Australia and the United States.
The Decemberists, The King is Dead - The King Is Dead is the sixth studio album by The Decemberists and was released on Capitol Records on Jan. 14. The album has 10 songs and reached Number One on the U.S. Billboard 200, for the week ending Feb. 5.
The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow - Barton Hollow is the first full-length studio album from The Civil Wars and was released in February, quickly becoming the most downloaded album on iTunes for that same week. It also topped the Billboard Digital Albums chart, selling 25,000 copies in its first week. On Nov. 30th, Barton Hollow was nominated for Grammys in the Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance categories. The album has sold over 220,000 copies in the U.S. to date.
Little Dragon, Ritual Union - This is the third studio album by Swedish electronic band Little Dragon. The album, which was released in July, debuted at 22 on the UK Albums Chart and 78 on the U.S. Billboard 200, making it the group's highest-charting album to date.
Cut Copy, Zonoscope - Zonoscope is the third studio album by Australian electronic band Cut Copy and was released in February. The album won the Artisan Award for Best Cover Art and was nominated for Album of the Year and Best Dance Release, at the 2011 Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Awards. It was also nominated for Best Dance/Electronica Album at the 54th Grammy Awards.
Cults, Cults- Cults is the first album from the New York-based duo of the same name. It was released in the U.S. in June and garnered generally positive response. It holds a current score of 73/100 on review-aggregator Metacritic.