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Signs of life? Music sales record rare growth

Signs of life? Music sales record rare growth

For the first time in the better part of a decade, US album sales have edged up ever so slightly. What's driving the rise? CNet's Greg Sandoval takes a closer look.

US music sales are up 1 percent[Photo credit]

Album sales edge up 1 percent for just the first half of the year and suddenly it seems everybody in the music industry is giddy.

That's likely due to the fact that since 2004, all the news about sales has been bad, bad, bad. Consider that the music industry hasn't seen growth since George W. Bush was preparing for a second term as president, the Boston Red Sox were breaking the curse of the Bambino, and Mark Zuckerberg was founding Facebook.

Last Wednesday, research firm Nielsen SoundScan announced that the industry recorded a 1 percent increase in overall U.S. album sales for the first six months of the year, snapping a dismal seven-year run of sales declines. Digital music helped power the gains as sales of digital tracks rose 11 percent, a rebound from the 1 percent growth for all of 2010. Digital albums grew at a healthy 19 percent.

Nobody is dancing in the streets, but the numbers have stirred hope among some connected to the business that a decade-long revenue slide--which they trace to Napster and the onset of illegal file sharing--may be over. "I think the rise in album sales certainly gives one cause for cautious optimism," said John Marmaduke, CEO of Hastings Entertainment, a chain store that sells books, DVDs, and CDs.

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