US Album sales take a nose dive at Christmas

The latest Nielsen Soundscan report revealed that the slump of traditional audio CDs is continuing at a worrying pace while the Recording Industry Association of America is resorting to some desperate measures to stop illegal copying.

Overall Music sales in the US were down by 21 percent with an estimated 84 million albums sold, down from 105 million. Obviously, the first explanation for such a massive slump can be found in the growing popularity of digital downloads.

Apple's iTunes gift cards have been popular gifts over the holiday period and Apple's iPod range make up 30 percent of Amazon UK electronics and computing top 10 sellers.

Some also argue that major label publishers are being punished for their lack of imagination and innovation as they churn out rehashed music, cover versions and greatest hits in record numbers.

With Microsoft's pushing the Zune and Amazon also jumping on the DRM-free bandwagon, it is only a matter of years before albums join the ranks of vinyl discs.

In other news, Engadget reports that the RIAA is playing hard ball with customers who rip their legally purchased audio CDs into MP3 files, although a judge has yet to prove that producing files for your personal use is illegal.