Recorded music sales are recovering in some markets, industry association the IFPI revealed this morning.

Global sales of recorded music, including audio and music video, grew by 1.7 per cent in units (though it fell 1.3 per cent in value) in the first half of 2004, year-on-year.

The figures reflect a slowing of the rate of decline in music sales of the past four years. This is the best first-half year result achieved since 2000. DVD music video continues to see strong growth, offsetting the decline in audio formats.

Interim sales of all audio and music video formats totalled $US13.9 billion, compared to $US14.1 billion in 2003. IFPI observed wide variation in sales between territories, with file sharing and commercial piracy still affecting many world markets, the organization said.

The US is leading the recovery, and Canada, German, Japan and others showing "a substantial reduction in their rate of decline", the IFPI said. Markets in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, France and Australia are weak.

While strangely not included in "official industry figures", sales through legitimate digital music download services "continued to show strong growth", the organization said.

IFPI chairman and CEO Jay Berman said: "There are some signs that the world's markets are beginning to recover, boosted by the continued growth of DVD music video, digital sales and added-value releases. However, markets continue to be hampered by the dual effects of commercial and Internet piracy. IFPI and its national groups are continuing to persuade music fans to download from legitimate music sites, and not file-share illegally. More and more consumers are using authorised download services - a distinctly positive sign."

The UK, the world's third largest market saw a modest (0.6 per cent) increase in CD sales, helped by new acts including Franz Ferdinand, Keane and Joss Stone, and other high profile albums.

Sales in the second half of the year generally account for around 60 per cent of annual sales, and this year will be helped by a strong schedule of releases from acts including Andrea Bocelli, Britney Spears, Daniel Bedingfield, Destiny's Child, Eminem, Green Day, Joss Stone, Ludacris, Nelly, R.E.M, Robbie Williams, Shania Twain and U2.