Jackson, Beatles bring "Help" to music business

Sun Oct 4, 2009 10:34pm EDT

Customers browse Beatles collections during their launch in New York, September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Customers browse Beatles collections during their launch in New York, September 9, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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NEW YORK (Billboard) - Renewed interest in the Beatles and Michael Jackson slowed the decline of U.S. album sales in the third quarter, although the industry is still on track to fall for the eighth time in nine years.

Sales were off 11.1% compared with the same period in 2008, according to Nielsen SoundScan. After the second quarter, sales were down 14.7% compared with the first half of 2008.

So far album sales are down 13.9% this year. Total album sales fell 14 percent in 2008.

Music retailers are hoping that the continued performance of Jackson and Beatles albums and a strong fourth-quarter release schedule will continue to make up lost ground.

During the quarter, Jackson's June 25 death fueled sales of about 5 million units, and the September 9 re-release of the Beatles catalog has sold 1.3 million units so far.

So far this year 11 albums have topped the 1 million-unit mark, the same number as in 2008. In 2008, the top seller was Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III," at 2.5 million units; this year's top seller is Jackson's "Number Ones," at 1.8 million units.

In terms of genre sales, the Latin category leads the decliners so far this year, with a 35.1% slump to 12.6 million units. Rock sales dropped 11.5% to 88.1 million units. R&B (which includes rap) fell 6.6% to 51.4 million units. Country was off just 1.7% to 30.3 million units

(Editing by DGoodman at Reuters)

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