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Record sales down, but seen as stabilizing

Record shipments declined in 2003, but at a substantially slower rate than the steep slide seen in 2002, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said Thursday. The value of music shipped to U.S. retail outlets fell by 4.3 percent in 2003, compared with a 6.8 percent drop the previous year. The number of units shipped dropped just 2.7 percent, compared with 7.8 percent in 2002, the group said.

The figures did not include sales though online stores such as Apple Computer's iTunes. Those markets are still very young, and their health will require continued anti-piracy enforcement efforts online, said RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol in a statement.