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Record Industry Hails Top-Selling Stars in Europe

From Luciano Pavarotti ( news – web sites) to Bob Geldof, the record industry hailed its stars on Wednesday at a ceremony to acclaim the artists who have sold the most albums in Europe over the past two years.

But the multi-billion-dollar bootlegging business cast a giant shadow over the Platinum Europe Awards, as the industry fights to combat pirates whose counterfeit CDs have flooded markets around the world.

The awards – given to all albums that have sold over one million copies in Europe – are sponsored by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) trade body which has declared war on pirates decimating industry profits.

Giving out the awards was Neil Kinnock, vice president of the European Commission ( news – web sites), warned consumers tempted to buy pirate CDs on the cheap from street-sellers of the consequences.

“The money often goes to organized crime networks that use the easy revenue from illegal CDs to finance drug dealing, trafficking in arms and people and every other kind of villainy,” he told the awards ceremony.

And music fans buying from pirates and downloading free music from the internet were killing the development of new talent.

“Increased piracy leads to a dead end in music,” he said.

The list of million-sellers was diverse – from Madonna ( news – web sites) to Enrique Iglesias, from Backstreet Boys ( news – web sites) to Enya.

The Beatles, with their Greatest Number One hits album, were as popular as ever more than 30 years after their break-up while Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley proved their music lives on well beyond the grave.

Only some turned up to claim their awards but the ceremony did attract two intriguing stars from opposing ends of the musical spectrum.

Pavarotti, hailed for selling 100 million albums and taking opera to the masses, was given a standing ovation when he appeared briefly to receive his award.

The applause was all the more heartfelt for his achievements as Pavarotti has announced that he will give up singing in three years time on his 70th birthday.

One of the warmest greetings was for Geldof, whose fundraising helped raise millions for the starving in Africa.

He appeared touched when Bono, lead singer of U2 and his fellow campaigner in the crusade to cancel Third World Debt, appeared on a video link from Dublin to hail his fellow Irishman’s musical talents.

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