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Music CD Sales Slump, Downloads Gaining

Hollywood Reporter -- Album sales declined 3.28 percent in the first quarter, with a slate of lackluster new releases contributing to a downturn in the first three months of 2006.

According to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ending April 2, album sales -- full-length CDs plus digital albums purchased as "one-click" sales -- totaled 140.4 million units for the year's first quarter compared with 145.2 million for the same period in 2005, an overall decline of 4.7 million units.

In comparison with the first three months of 2005, digital sales continued on the upswing, though they still are dwarfed by sales of physical product. Digital album sales, tallying nearly 7.4 million units, increased 143 percent in the quarter, while sales of digital tracks jumped 89 percent to almost 144 million units.

In terms of market share, Universal Music Group maintained its lock on the top spot. Universal accounted for 30.7 percent of the market in the first quarter; that figure includes sales generated by its independent arm Fontana Distribution.

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