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Classical Music: Sales Juggernaut of 2006
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Classical Music: Sales Juggernaut of 2006

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Classical Music: Sales Juggernaut of 2006

Classical Music: Sales Juggernaut of 2006
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The fastest-growing segment of music sales in 2006 wasn't rock, dancehall, or hip-hop; it was classical music, says Nielsen Sound Scan's yearly report card. The news comes after years of ominous predictions of the genre's death. Some attribute the uptick to growing online classical sales.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Like many orchestras, the New York Philharmonic is working to reverse years of declining records sales. Well, the orchestra and the entire classical music world just got a surprising boost. A report on record sales in 2006 finds that classical music was the fastest growing genre. Album sales increased 22.5 percent from 2005.

NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: If you consider yourself a fan of traditional classical music, you might find Nielsen Sound Scan's report a little confusing. Among the Top Ten bestselling classical artists were Sting, Josh Groban and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

(Soundbite of music)

BLAIR: These crossover artists are superstars and sell thousands more albums than their traditional counterparts. Nielsen's year-end report combines the two categories. Anastasia Tsioulcas, a columnist for Billboard magazine, says there's always hope within the music industry that someone like Sting or Bocelli will draw more people to classical music as a whole. She says so far that hasn't really happened.

Ms. ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS (Billboard): I think what we're seeing in the long-term is when people buy, say, a Bocelli album, they don't go out and then buy a Puccini opera. They go out and buy another Bocelli album. They're not identifying Bocelli as classical music per se. They're much more fans of that artist.

BLAIR: Still, some labels that stick to the classical repertoire are also reporting good news. Independent labels like Koch and Nexus say their sales are also up. And downloading is a big part of it. The total number of classical albums purchased online more than doubled last year.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

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