This week the news came out that sales of catalog albums outpaced those of new records during the first six months of 2012. Current (less than 18 months old) albums sold 73.9 million copies between January 2 and June 1, down from 82.8 million in the first six months of 2011; catalog albums sold 76.6 million copies, up from 72.6 million over last year's first half. My Seattle Weekly colleague Chris Kornelis went in-depth about how pricing of new releases vs. catalog titles helped create this scenario; deep discounting of certain older albums, in both physical and digital form, certainly makes the prospect of buying them more alluring to those people who simply want to add something, anything to their libraries. There's also the simple fact that there are simply more albums by well-known artists in the "catalog" side of things, not to mention the corollary that labels are getting more savvy about exploiting their vaults. (Hey, it saves money on recording!) But there are a few other factors at play that involve how people discover music in 2012, and they run the gamut from radio to the iTunes Store to the shelves at Target.
The top three catalog albums of 2012 so far. (Whitney Houston's Whitney The Greatest Hits is No. 1.)