Eminem's 'Recovery' at Numero Uno for 2010. Overall music sales down, of course.

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Congrats to Eminem and his Recovery album for landing the biggest selling album of 2010, according the brand new, year-end Nielson SoundScan reports.

We say congrats because the total number flies in the face of myriad comments from internet gimps about Em’s irrelevancy, about how this record was gonna stiff, and hard. Well, hardy har-har.

Here are other points about Em’s numbers from the SoundScans:

Recovery sold more than 3.4 million copies; 2.6 million were physical copies (CD, LP) and 852,000 of those were digital downloads, which gives Recovery the biggest one year total for a digital album, and it’s the second most downloaded album ever, 30,000 less than Lady Gaga’s Fame.  Lady Antebellum’ unredeemable Need You Now is at No. 2, with a bit more than three million units shifted.

—Note that Em’s the first artist to have scored the best-selling album of the year twice since the 1991 inception of the SoundScans, and he’s the only rapper in the top 20.  Em jumps to the 7th best selling artist in the history of Nielsen SoundScan, just behind Celine Dion and George Strait,  having sold 39, 643,000 albums since '91.

The year’s best selling artist is Taylor Swift (4.4 million albums). Garth Brooks continues to be the best-selling artist since SoundScan tracked album sales, with more than 68.5 million total; that’s 6 million more than The Beatles.

What’s sad about the SoundScans is that only eight percent of all albums sold were purchased from independent retailers. Thirty-three percent came from the big-box stores (Best Buy, Walmart etc.) and 26 percent of all albums were purchased digitally through iTunes, Amazonmp3, eMusic.

Also interesting is how vinyl sales jumped 14 percent over 2009, rising for the third year in a row — 2.8 million vinyl albums were purchased in 2010, mostly at indie retailers, and a small percentage overall. Beatles’ Abbey Road topped the list with 35,000 sold.

Though sales of digital albums rose last year to 86 million, overall album sales declined by 9.5 percent over 2009. Total albums sold: 443.4 million, mostly CD.

Overall music sales (singles, albums, music video and digital songs) hit 1.5 billion, down 2.3 percent over 2009.

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