The U.S. music market in 2004 showed its first half-year total shipment gain in five years, driven by growth of CD albums, according to a new report from the RIAA.

The U.S. music market in 2004 showed its first half-year total shipment gain in five years, driven by growth of CD albums, according to a new report from the RIAA.

The volume of CD album shipments in the first six months of 2004 rose 5.3% from the same period last year to 329 million units. The value of CD albums in the first half was $4.78 billion, up 3.4% from the same period last year.

However, these numbers are still below 2001 levels. This fact is best illustrated by shipment data for the top-selling albums: the top 50 albums in the first half of this year shipped 16.7% fewer copies than those in the first half of 2001, and the top 100 albums shipped 19.7% fewer.

CD albums helped drive total first-half product shipments up 4% from the same period last year to 349.9 million, for a value up 3.6% to $5.05 billion.

"The record industry has experienced some gains so far in 2004, but we are rising out of a deep hole and still have a long way to go," RIAA chairman/CEO Mitch Bainwol says in a statement. "Piracy, both online and on the street, continues to hit the music community hard, and thousands have lost their jobs because of it."

For the first time, the RIAA has included downloads in its semi-annual report. The trade group says 58 million tracks were downloaded or burned from licensed online music services during the first half.

Music video continues to show growth. Shipments of music video DVDs doubled during the period to 11.2 million units, with value up 54.5% to $206.26 million.

The RIAA report is based on statistics supplied by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Total figures are based on shipments from record companies to retail, direct-to-consumer outlets and special markets.