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IN BRIEF/Entertainment

Universal Music Is Tops in Pop

April 11, 2002|Jeff Leeds

Battling an abysmal music marketplace, Universal Music Group in the last week has captured seven of the top 10 best-selling albums on the nation's pop chart.

This year, the Vivendi Universal division accounts for an estimated 28% of new music sales, far outpacing its four major competitors at a time when executives say sales are suffering from a dearth of hit acts and increasing digital piracy.

Last year, music sales industrywide had their first year-to-year decline in at least a decade. Sales of current albums this year continue to slide, declining about 10% from a year ago, according to music research firm SoundScan.

But Universal topped the sales list for the week ended Sunday with albums from R&B act Ashanti, the Now music compilation, the duo of Jay-Z and R. Kelly, soundtracks from "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "The Scorpion King," rapper Ludacris and R&B singer Avant.

The music conglomerate's market share is down slightly from a year ago, but group Chairman Doug Morris said, "We're doing a good job against the stream of the overall business. We're going to outperform everybody because of the people who work here."

In New York Stock Exchange trading, Vivendi shares rose 4cents to $33.40.

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