US music acts outperformed British artists in the UK album charts for the first time last year, according to figures from the UK record industry.
Justin Timberlake's debut album Justified was a worldwide smash
American artists sold 45.4% of albums compared with the UK's 42.3%, the British Phonographic Industry said.
The BPI said the figures could be explained by huge-selling albums by US singers Justin Timberlake and Norah Jones - against scant UK competition.
By contrast, in 1997 the US share was 28.4% and the UK's percentage 58.3%.
The news follows concerns expressed by the British Academy of Song-Writers this week that the UK's radiowaves are dominated by US acts with not enough British music being promoted.
A BPI spokesman said successful US artists often bred similar-sounding UK acts - but this was not the case in 2003.
He cited as an example the success of an artist such as Norah Jones, which may have precipitated acts like Katie Melua and Jamie Cullum - although they did not break through with comparable sales in 2003.
Dido and The Darkness were big British success stories last year, but the BPI said in some cases UK album sales did not build until after 2003's figures were compiled.
The BPI likened the recent rise of British acts like Melua and Cullum to what he called "the Radio 2 phenomenon".
This refers to the success of so-called middle-of-the-road acts such as Gordon Haskell and Eva Cassidy after their records were playlisted by the BBC.