The recording industry's sales sank again in 2003, but the rate of decline slowed.
Total U.S. album sales dipped about 3.6% to an estimated 656 million, compared with an 11% decline the year before, research firm Nielsen SoundScan reported. Sales of CDs, which account for 96% of the market, slid 2% to about 636 million albums, compared with a 9% drop the previous year.
Overall album sales have plunged about 16% since peaking in 2000, according to Nielsen SoundScan data. Music executives blame the falloff on digital piracy and CD copying. Sales began picking up in recent months as the major record companies sued hundreds of consumers who allegedly had used online file-sharing networks to download songs for free.
For the year through Dec. 28, rapper 50 Cent's "Get Rich or Die Tryin' " ranked as the top-selling album, racking up more than 6.5 million copies sold. Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" sold 5.1 million copies, taking its total to nearly 8 million since its release in 2002. The year's other hottest releases were Linkin Park's "Meteora" (3.5 million), Evanescence's "Fallen" (3.4 million) and OutKast's "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" (3.1 million).