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Album Sales Up For The First Time Since 2004

Adele, who has the year's top selling album so far, performs at NPR.
Adele Hampton
Adele, who has the year's top selling album so far, performs at NPR.

Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks music sales across the country, reported an anemic ray of sunshine for a music industry that has been battered by the Internet: For the first time since 2004, sales of albums posted an uptick.

Now, our friend Frannie Kelley from NPR's The Record says it is the slightest of gains — 1 percent — and "sales are still way down from where they were before the decline started."

The Hartford Courant reports the gain is likely in part due to a federal court shutting down LimeWire, a peer-to-peer sharing service.

And The Los Angeles Times says that even though it's a slim gain, it is "progress for an industry that's struggling to find ways to get consumers to pay for music rather than download free, pirated copies from file-sharing services."

But the Courant quotes Bob Lefsetz, a music industry observer, who was far less charitable in his assessment of the numbers:

"Trumpeting this as good news is like saying we're winning in Afghanistan if the body count is less than it was the previous week," Lefsetz wrote. "We lost that war. And the major labels lost the Internet war."

Streaming is the future of music, Lefsetz predicts, noting that Nielsen's numbers came on the same day that Spotify, a popular digital subscription service in Europe, began allowing American subscribers to sign up.

The BBC reports that 21, the latest effort from the British singer Adele, is the year's top selling album with 2.5 million copies sold. Lady Gaga, Mumford & Sons, Jason Aldean and Bruno Mars round out the top five.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.