The mid-year ended with the U.S. music industry still reeling from the downturn in physical goods. According to Nielsen SoundScan, album sales were down 15.1% for the year to nearly 230 million units in the six-month period ended July 1.

But on the plus side, digital sales continue to be a growing force with track downloads totaling 417.3 million units in the first half of 2007. That represents a 48.5% increase over the corresponding period last year when tracks download totaled nearly 281 million units.

If track downloads are converted into track-equivalent-albums and added to the album sales total above, then total album sales equal 271.6 million units, only a 9.1% decline from last year's total of 298.7 million scans.

Looking at label market-share, the Universal Music Group -- including its Fontana independent distribution operation -- finished first among U.S. distributors with a 31.6% market share in album scans.

It stood more than six percentage points ahead of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which finished the first six-months with a 25.2% market share, which includes its RED indie distribution sales. That's down a full percentage point from the 26.3 it had last year in the first six-months of the year.

In the meantime, WEA continues to close the ground between it and Sony BMG as the Edgar Bronfman-led company finished the first six months with a 20% market share, thanks to its three distribution companies WEA, Alternative Distribution Alliance and Ryko Distribution. That's up from the 19.3% the company garnered in the corresponding six-month period last year.

Finally, EMI Music Marketing finished the first half with 10.3%, while the indie sector collectively -- and minus the indie operations of the four majors -- finished the six-month period with 12.85%.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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