Only seven '05 releases have become million sellers

Sales of recorded music are down almost 7% from last year as the calendar hits the halfway mark. But if the music industry is looking for a silver lining in that rain cloud, they’ll find it in the digital arena, where paid downloads are up by 104 million units.

For the first six months of 2005, Nielsen SoundScan reports that 282.6 million units have been sold, compared with 303 million a year ago. Digital downloads, however, have topped 158.7 million, up from 54.7 million a year earlier.

Universal Music Group is the leader in market share at 35.7%, followed by Sony BMG (28.3%), Warner Music Group (14.7%) and EMI (9.2%).

The year has seen only seven ’05 releases become million sellers: 50 Cent’s “The Massacre,” at 4 million; Mariah Carey’s “Emancipation of Mimi,” 2.3 million; the Game’s “The Documentary,” 2.1 million; Coldplay’s “X&Y,” 1.4 million; Keith Urban’s “Be Here,” 1.3 million; Jack Johnson’s “In Between Dreams,” 1.2 million; and System of a Down’s “Mesmerize,” 1 million.

First-half releases that should hit seven digits by year’s end include discs by Rob Thomas, Black Eyed Peas, Toby Keith, Mike Jones, Dave Matthews Band, 3 Doors Down and Jesse McCartney.

A year ago, sales at the midway point were up 7% from 2003.

Last week’s sales, led by 245,000 copies sold of George Strait’s “Somewhere Down in Texas” (MCA Nashville), were down 2.7% from the same week last year.

Strait bumped Coldplay’s “X&Y” (Capitol), which fell to No. 3 after three weeks in the pole position. “X&Y” sold 140,000.

Rap act Ying Yang Twins saw their TVT disc “United State of Atlanta” sell 201,000 copies in its debut sesh. D-Roc and Kaine had never had a sales week top 75,000 previously.

“I’m a Hustla,” by Cassidy, the rapper who recently turned himself in to Philadelphia police in connection with a shooting, opened at No. 5 with his soph Full Surface/J Records release selling 92,000.

Five- and six-year-old recordings from soul singer Anthony Hamilton, released by Rhino/Atlantic under the title “Soulife,” opened at No. 12, selling 53,000 copies. Columbia’s soul thrush Vivian Green saw her second disc, “Vivian,” sell 46,000 copies and open at No. 18.

In other debuts, Island rock band CKY’s “Answer Can Be Found” sold 28,000 copies to open at No. 35; Razor & Tie’s collection of 30 slow jams, “Slow Motion,” sold 26,000 (No. 37); the Jive debut from R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn, “Love Experience,” sold 22,000 (No. 46); and former D-12 rapper Bizarre sold 21,000 copies of his Sanctuary disc “Hannicap Circus” (No. 48).

Traditionally, the week after the Fourth of July is a no man’s land in music retail. Last year’s top debut, for example, was Angie Stone’s “Stone Love” at 53,000 units sold. This year, however, it appears R. Kelly’s “TP.3 Reloaded” (Jive), released Tuesday, is looking at sales of more than a half-million.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more