October 20, 2004 1:11 PM PDT

CD shipments surge after lean years

CD shipments are surging this year, but not enough to erase previous years' declines in the music business, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

The record industry's trade group said the value of shipments of all music at the midpoint of 2004 had climbed nearly 4 percent compared to the previous year. The industry has shipped 10 percent more CDs to retail outlets than last year, showing a strong increase in demand.

But that growth does not mean that the industry can let up in its years-long legal attacks on file swapping and other digital copying, executives said.

"We are rising out of a deep hole and still have a long way to go," RIAA Chief Executive Mitch Bainwol said. "Piracy, both online and on the street, continues to hit the music community hard, and thousands have lost their jobs because of it."

The statistics are likely fuel new rounds of speculation about the effect of Internet swapping--and new digital download sales--on the music business.

The music industry's balance sheets have been hard hit over the past four years, with steep, consecutive year-over-year declines in sales. The trends have led to widespread layoffs, consolidation and shrinking budgets for development of new acts.

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