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And that's a wrap: Lil Wayne crowned 2008's top seller, but he's no Josh Groban

December 31, 2008 | 12:22 pm
Wayne_500

In some of the most anti-climatic music news of the final week of the year, Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III" was named the top-selling album of 2008. There was no doubt Lil Wayne would finish at the top. The only question was how much it would sell, and his Grammy-nominated release sold 2.88 million copies, according to Billboard's year-end chart-wrap.

That's a significant lead over Coldplay's "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends," which was a distant second with 2.11 million. Taylor Swift is right behind the British pop stars with "Fearless." The country upstart's recently released set has sold 2.11 million copies since its November release.

Billboard's story has this interesting little tidbit: Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III" marks the first time since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991 that the top-selling album of the year sold fewer than 3 million copies. For a little perspective, the top-selling album of 2007 was Josh Groban 's "Noel," which sold a mighty 3.7-million copies.

Wayne's "Tha Carter III" sold just over a million copies in its debut week back in June. In the five months since it was released, the album has sold about 1.88 million copies.

Billboard has the full run-down of the 10 top-selling albums of the year but worth noting is that CD sales accounted for 84% of overall album sales, down from 90% last year. Making up the difference were digital-album sales, up from 10% to about 15% of the market.

This also marked the first year that more than 1 billion digital tracks were sold, led by Leona Lewis with "Bleeding Love." The digital cut tallied 3.37 million sold.

Worth watching will be how the declining price in MP3 albums affects album sales and digital market share in 2009. Amazon.com is leading the charge and is selling 2008's top-selling MP3 albums for $5. Amid the crop are releases from Zooey Deschanel-led She & Him, the aforementioned Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Sugarland, Cut Copy and on and on. Although it's not exactly good news for the music biz as the value of the CD treads closer and closer to zero.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Lil Wayne. Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times

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