Record labels are approaching another financially weak year, as a minimum of 200 million albums in the last quarter is now required in order to break even with last year’s low total. According to Variety, the music industry officially closed out with a total of 297.9 million albums sold for the third quarter making it already 12 percent less than the previous year. 2007 saw a total of 500.5 million in sales with over 30 percent of the records purchased stemming from the fourth quarter. However, this year the industry would have to up that amount to over 40 percent. With a strong line-up of upcoming albums believed to drop before 2009 including releases from Kanye West, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes and possible albums from Dr. Dre, Eminem and Andre 3000, the goal may still be attainable. Aside from a wide range in pricing beginning around $9 to $16 for an album, insiders have alleged that it’s the power of digital singles selling for less than a dollar via sites like iTunes that have helped them bypass the supremacy of full-length discs. The fourth quarter has already seen significant digital sales with Kanye’s latest single “Love Lockdown” which has continued to climb up the charts. Another major concern for record labels is the reduction in inventory at major retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy while other popular stores including Circuit City may be on the verge of bankruptcy with stock down 82 percent this year. Despite initial concern from insiders, a selection of recently released albums have helped the industry rebound including Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter III that went platinum in seven days alone, along with Tuesday’s release of T.I.’s Paper Trail reportedly projecting to sell close to 500,000 in its opening week sales. As reported by SOHH, record companies have begun taking notice in the lack of sales and space in retail stores and have teamed up with SanDisk Corp to create album-filled memory cards that will be usable on mobile phones, PCs and select portable MP3 players. The required $200 million in sales would have to occur before January 4 to break even with last year’s total, according to SOHH.com.