AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake While good news for recording companies looking to expand download sales, it doesn’t bode well for music retailers relying on customers to buy music CDs rather than digital downloads to turn a profit amid declining sales. “More and more we’re seeing customers switch to downloads or burning CDs from their friends,” said Jesse Klempner, owner of Aron’s Records in Hollywood. “The last couple of years we’ve been hanging on by our teeth.” The top three best-selling albums of 2005 through Dec. 21 were rapper 50 Cent’s “The Massacre,” which had sold 4.8 million copies, followed by Mariah Carey’s “The Emancipation of Mimi” with 4.6 million sold, and Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” which sold 3.3 million units, Nielsen SoundScan said. Full-album downloads are counted under album sales along with other formats. Most digital downloads reflect single-track purchases. Sales of music-related videos, another key revenue source for brick-and-mortar retailers, plunged 23 percent over the same time last year, Nielsen SoundScan said. U.S. album sales were down about 7 percent as 2005 drew to a close, but the budding market for music downloads, which more than doubled over last year, helped narrow the revenue gap, according to figures released Wednesday. Album sales from January through the week ending Sunday stood at 602.2 million, compared with 650.8 million for the same period last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Combined, album and singles sales were down around 8 percent over the same stretch last year. More than 95 percent of albums are sold in CD format. Downloaded tracks from online retailers soared to 332.7 million this year, compared with 134.2 million in 2004, an increase of 148 percent. Holiday shoppers helped pump up music download sales figures with some last-minute shopping, buying 9.6 million downloads – the biggest sales week ever for digital downloads, according to the company. Music lovers bought 5 million tracks during the same week last year. Final 2005 figures won’t be in until Wednesday. The last week of the year typically sees a boost in music sales as gift certificates or other promotions given out for the holidays are spent. Those additional sales could help narrow the sales gap further. That’s not likely to help Klempner, who has decided to close his store in February after 40 years in business. Despite a slight upswing in sales last year, Aron’s and many other retailers have struggled to survive a persistent sales slump that stretches back to the start of the decade and coincides with the explosion of online piracy and deep price reductions on CDs by large retailers. “We discount everything as well,” Klempner said. “When volume falls off, what little profits you have are gone.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!