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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 April, 2004, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
US music bounces back from slump
Singer Norah Jones
Norah Jones has had one of the year's biggest hits so far
Music sales in the US rose by more than 9% in the first three months of 2004 compared with the same period last year - signalling an end to a four-year dip.

The 9.1% upturn in sales of CDs, music DVDs and legal downloads is a ray of light for an industry that has battled online piracy and new technology.

For the first time since 2000, two albums - by Norah Jones and Usher - had weekly sales of more than one million.

"We've had a big run so far," Billboard Magazine's Geoff Mayfield said.

But he added: "Because we've had three years of erosion, at least for the first eight months of the year, it will be relatively easy for the industry to post increases."

The upturn, which began at the end of 2003, saw CD sales rise 10.6%, according to the figures from Nielsen SoundScan.

R&B singer Usher
R&B singer Usher is currently number one in the US album chart
Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, said the figures were "good news" - but were being compared with a very low point.

"The numbers of 2003 were down about 10 to 12% from the year before. If we didn't have that kind of increase, it would be really terrible," he said.

The music industry has been hit hard by the sales slump, with many record companies forced to restructure and shed jobs.

The industry blamed illegal online song-swapping - where music fans copy songs without permission and put them on the internet for other people to download for free.

A major legal assault, including lawsuits against almost 2,000 downloaders, has been launched to stem the practice.

Now, the music industry is beginning to harness the technology, with new legal download sites like Apple's iTunes selling almost 20 million songs in 2003.


SEE ALSO:
Music sales decline again in 2003
07 Apr 04  |  Entertainment
Online piracy 'devastates' music
04 Mar 04  |  Technology
Singer Jones tops US album chart
19 Feb 04  |  Entertainment
US album sales continue to fall
02 Jan 04  |  Entertainment


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