Billboard -- A record-breaking 55.74 million digital songs were sold last week (ending Dec. 30) -- the single-largest week for download song sales ever according to Nielsen SoundScan. It beats the previous record of 47.73 million sold during the week ending Dec. 28, 2008.
The huge sales surge last week is owed largely to consumers redeeming music download gift cards received on Christmas Day. A week earlier (ending Dec. 23) there were 25.50 million songs sold.
To compare: Last year, in the first full week after Christmas (week ending Jan. 1, 2012), there were 46.42 million songs sold. The week earlier (ending Dec. 25, 2011), there were 38.25 million sold.
Unlike in 2011, where the gift card impact was spread into two separate SoundScan tracking weeks, 2012's haul is mostly housed in a single SoundScan frame.
Why is that? Because, in 2011, Christmas Day fell on a Sunday -- the final day of SoundScan's tracking week. So, we saw impact both in the tail end of the Dec. 25, 2011-ending sales week in addition to that of the Jan. 1, 2012-ending week.
In 2012, as Christmas Day occurred on a Tuesday, basically all of the gift card impact is found in the sales week that ended on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012.
The post-Christmas week digital song haul helps bring 2012's overall song sales sum to a record 1.336 billion. That's up 5% compared with the then-record total moved in 2011 (1.271 billion).
Additionally, as we forecasted last week, a bevy of individual songs saw enormous sales gains last week thanks in part to redemptions.
On Billboard's Digital Songs chart, a record 48 songs sold more than 100,000 downloads last week. The week previous, just 10 did. Until this week, no more than 39 songs had moved 100,000 in a frame (in the week ending Dec. 26, 2010).
Leading the charge at No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart this week is Taylor Swift 's "I Knew You Were Trouble," which returns to the top (up one slot) with 582,000 sold (up 163%). That is the fourth-largest sales week ever for a song, and the second-biggest for a tune that wasn't in its debut frame.
Flo Rida 's "Right Round" continues to hold the all-time one-week digital sales record, when it debuted with 636,000 on the chart dated Feb. 28, 2009. Swift's own "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is second with 623,000 (a debut on Sept. 1, 2012). Ke$ha 's "TiK ToK" is third with 610,000 sold over the Christmas frame of 2009 (reflected in the chart dated Jan. 2, 2010). "TiK Tok" had debuted in October of 2009.
"I Knew You Were Trouble" is one of seven songs to sell more than 300,000 downloads last week. Bruno Mars ' "Locked Out of Heaven" is pushed down to No. 2, despite a 120% sales increase. It sold 497,000.
PSY 's "Gangnam Style" takes a tremendous leap as well, rising 8-3 with 400,000 (up 245%). While the song long ago peaked in airplay, and already started to drop in sales, it got a renewed life last week thanks to end-of-year media exposure.
Justin Bieber 's "Beauty and a Beat" ascends 7-3 (372,000; up 212%), Rihanna 's "Diamonds" holds at No. 5 (365,000; up 159%), the Lumineers ' "Ho Hey" slips 3-6 (304,000; up 104%) and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" drops one rung to No. 7 (just over 304,000; up 116%).
As for the rest of the top 10: Ke$ha's "Die Young" rises 12-8 with 299,000 (up 228%), will.i.am & Britney Spears ' "Scream & Shout" slides 4-9 with 285,000 (up 99%) and Phillip Phillips' "Home" falls a spot to No. 10 with 281,000 (up 157%).
Related article on Billboard.com:
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