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Music Industry On The Mend?

Washington — Manufacturer-level unit sales of prerecorded music rose in the first half, ending a four-year string of consecutive first-half declines, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said.

The gains were driven largely by first-half CD sales that also rose for the first time in five years.

Overall first-half unit sales rose 4 percent in net units after returns to 349.9 million. At full suggested retail price, the dollar value of those sales would be up 3.6 percent to $5.05 billion. The figures combine sales to retailers, manufacturer-direct sales and special-market sales.

The growth, however, hasn’t made up for years of decline and, compared to 2001, CD shipments to retail remained down by 4.3 percent, and overall industry shipments to retail were down 9.8 percent in units, the RIAA complained.

The RIAA also found that DVD-Audio sales were up in units, SACD sales were down and the formats’ combined unit sales fell shy of vinyl LP sales. In many categories, the picture brightened in the first half of this year, the RIAA noted. The industry posted unit and dollar gains in sales of CDs, vinyl singles, DVD-Audio and music videos on tape and DVD. Sales were down in SACD, cassettes, vinyl LPs and CD singles.

In a first, the RIAA tracked the authorized music-download market and determined that 58 million tracks were downloaded or burned from licensed online music services in the first half. Here’s what’s up:

Full-length CD shipments: Units sales were up 5.3 percent to 329 million units, boosting suggested-retail value by 3.4 percent to $4.78 billion.

CD single: Units were off 55.8 percent to 2.6 million for a retail value of $11.6 million.

Audio cassette: Units sales fell 62.6 percent to 3 million for a retail value of $13.2 million.

Vinyl LP: Unit sales fell 9.3 percent to 700,000 for a retail value of $9.3 million.

Vinyl single: Units rose 1.8 percent to 1.9 million for a retail value of $10.9 million.

VHS music video: Units were up 15.1 percent to 800,000 for a retail value of $10.8 million.

DVD music video: Units rose 102 percent to 11.2 million for a retail value of $206.3 million.

DVD-Audio: Units were up 110 percent to 300,000 for a retail value of $4.8 million.

SACD: Units plummeted 54.2 percent to 300,000 for a retail value of $6.7 million.