As physical copies of albums begin to go the way of the dinosaur, more and more people are purchasing their music as digital downloads. The following 10 artists were the top sellers of digital tracks in 2011, proving that the music industry sales model is evolving from the compact discs of a decade ago.
1. Katy Perry – She was the only artist to spend more than one year in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She beat King of Pop Michael Jackson’s record for number of singles to hit No. 1 from a single album. And being named Billboard’s 2012 Woman of the Year, Katy Perry isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
2. Adele – After releasing two albums, netting eight Grammy Awards between them and breaking sales records along the way, Adele is a force to be reckoned with. Songs of betrayal, revenge and heartbreak may be her bread and butter, but she’s singing all the way to the bank as her music continues to fly off the virtual shelves.
3. Rihanna – Rihanna’s career has remained on an upward trajectory since her 2005 debut. The youngest solo artist to have 11 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, she was named Billboard’s Digital Songs Artist of the 2000s and one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world.
4. Glee Cast – This band of television misfits won the hearts, and purchases, of millions with their spunky renditions of classic singles and show tunes. Tackling very real issues like bullying, first love, teen pregnancy and the social hierarchy of high school, Glee has been nominated for 19 Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes and six Satellite Awards in the first season alone.
5. Lady Gaga – Meat dresses and outrageous hats aside, Lady Gaga’s devoted fan base of Monsters launched her firmly into the stratosphere of top-selling digital artists by purchasing 12,768,000 digital downloads of her music in 2011 alone.
6. Lil Wayne – He surpassed Elvis Presley as the male performer with the most entries on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in September of 2012. The year 2011 brought him 12,335,000 digital sales units, and the popularity of his protégé Drake is climbing steadily.
7. LMFAO – This electropop duo knows how to rock a party so hard that they called their debut EP Party Rock. Despite going on an indefinite hiatus in 2012, LMFAO played the Super Bowl halftime show with Madonna, sold out arenas in a tour with opener Ke$ha, and kept the song, “Sexy and I Know It” firmly lodged in heads around the world.
8. Bruno Mars – Nominated for seven Grammy awards for his debut album Doo-Wops and Hooligans, with a Best Male Pop Vocal Performance win for the single “Just the Way You Are,” Bruno Mars sold 10,443,000 digital units in 2011.
9. Eminem – Detroit’s favorite wayward son, Eminem’s success hasn’t been dampened by the controversy surrounding the sometimes-violent imagery in his lyrics. Rolling Stone placed him in the 82nd slot of its 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list, and dubbed Slim Shady “The King of Hip Hop.”
10. Chris Brown – Chris Brown’s rabid fan base propelled him to success by purchasing 8,770,000 digital downloads of his music.
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