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Eminem Top U.S. Album Sales in 2002

Hip-hop phenomenon Eminem trounced all comers in 2002 and tentatively claimed top album of the year honors after selling more than 7.4 million copies of “The Eminem Show” (Interscope/Shady) in the U.S., according to figures released Thursday by Nielsen SoundScan.

The album’s performance defied a sharply downward trend in the industry as a whole, as CD album sales tumbled by 9% to 624.2 million for the year through Dec. 22.

In fact, Slim Shady beat his nearest rival, Universal Music Group label mate Nelly by more than 2.6 million discs. Nelly’s “Nellyville” (Universal) shifted just under 4.8 million albums and took the No. 2 spot for the year to date.

The one-two punch for UMG helped the big-five label group to consolidate its position as the No. 1 record company in the nation. Universal claimed just below 28.9% of the total album sales market in 2002 through the Dec. 22, compared to 26.4% in 2001.

In current albums (those released less than a year ago), the label was even more dominant, with a 31.2% share. In addition to the Eminem and Nelly discs, Universal fielded an astonishing four more of the year-to-date’s top 10 releases, including Eminem’s “8 Mile” soundtrack (No. 5), Ashanti’s self-titled debut (No. 7), the Grammy-winning “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack (No. 9), and Shania Twain’s recently released “Up!” (No. 10).

Twain also claimed the top seller to date of the entire SoundScan era (beginning in 1991). Her release “Come On Over” has sold almost 14.5 million copies.

Coming in just behind Universal in current market share was BMG with 17.4%. The label scored big with Avril Lavigne’s “Let Go,” which claimed third place with just under 3.9 million copies sold, and Pink’s “Missundaztood,” which sold 3 million and took the sixth spot. Alan Jackson’s “Drive” also made the cut at No. 8, selling just under 3 million. In total share including catalog sales, however, BMG remained in fourth place with a 14.8% share.

Sony held to third in current share but slipped a bit, to 15.2% from 15.8% a year earlier. The label’s best performer for the year through Dec. 22 was “Home” from the Dixie Chicks, which landed in fourth with 3.4 million sold. Sony was also third in total albums sold with 15.6% of the market.

Warner Music Group was in fourth place in current share with 14.2%, but second place in total share. The label didn’t field any albums in the top 10 to date; last year, it scored the No. 1 seller of 2001 with Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory.”

Nor did EMI, which remained in fifth place in both categories. The British major’s share of the current album crop fell sharply, from 10.6% in 2001 to just 7.3% this year, while its total album share slipped from 10.7% to 8.4%.

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