While music sales shrank in the UK this year, the US fared much better: according to Nielsen Soundscan, album sales increased 1.3 percent year-over-year to 330.57 million units, the first such increase since 2004. Similar to the trend seen in the UK, digital album sales increased 19.5 percent to account for 103.1 million units in 2011, while CD sales shrank 5.7 percent to 223.5 million units. Still, that decline was far less severe than the 18-to-20 percent declines CD sales have experienced in the last four years.

When you add in single track and music video sales, the numbers look even better, with total US music sales increasing 6.9 percent to 1.61 billion units. English singer Adele led the way; her album 21 sold 5.82 million copies (the most sold by a single album since 2004), while hit single "Rolling in the Deep" was downloaded 5.81 million times and was the most-downloaded song since Nielsen Soundscan began tracking digital downloads in 2003. These numbers don't even include the influence of streaming subscription services like Rdio or Spotify, the latter of which added 1.5 million paid subscribers in 2011.