"...By now, everybody's heard how the music business is under attack from digital piracy and song-swap company Napster Inc. But despite the explosive growth of Napster's free service, which has amassed 20 million users, sales of albums are strong and record labels have even raised prices, which are being passed on to willing consumers.
U.S. sales of albums are up about 8 percent to 381 million units year-to-date and record labels are poised to ship more than $15 billion in albums this year, industry data shows. Further underscoring strong demand, music fans are now paying as much as $18.98 for hit albums in major retail stores, up from $17.98 a few months ago. And more and more albums are coming out at these prices, industry sources said.
These price increases have also come in spite a move in May by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which curbed record company deals that restricted stores from advertising discounted CDs. The FTC settled a suit with music companies it said had paid stores money to advertise certain CDs in return for mentioning the list price in ads. The FTC said the settlement would save consumers millions of dollars monthly.
With industry watchers having all but written obituaries for brick-and-mortar outlets due to the emergence of Napster, which lets fans swap songs by trading MP3 files, a compression format that turns music on compact discs into small computer files, music retailers are in fact having a strong year..."