The first quarter of the year is notorious for being a sluggish period for album sales -- most big releases come out in time for the Black Friday binge -- and after the music industry weathered the storm of a pair of all-time-low weeks in early 2011, overall album sales have been on the rise for the past month and a half, thanks largely to Adele's 21 and Chris Brown's F.A.M.E. Plus, the music industry will get some best-selling reinforcements in the form of Britney Spears' Femme Fatale (her solid opening week numbers didn't contribute to the first quarter), Lady Gaga's Born This Way, and Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV.
Perhaps because of Google's hard stance on illegal downloading (doubt it), digital music sales were up 14.9 percent in the first quarter compared to 2010, which is a great sign for record companies since it seemed like digital music had hit the wall last year. Adele's 21 was the top-selling album of the first quarter with 942,000 copies sold, while Cee Lo Green's nine-month-old "F--- You" somehow remains a sales giant -- it finally reached Number One on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart this week; it was released in August 2010 -- as it's currently 2011's best-selling single, edging out Lady Gaga's "Born This Way."
So while the music industry faces another year of decreased sales, at least this is a decline they can live with.