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Overall albums sales were up 20% in the last week of December, as compared to the year before and up 5% for the entire month over 2002, while CD album sales increased 6.1% during December.

HOLIDAY SALES MAKE
FOR A COOL YULE

Grammy nominees OutKast, Alicia Keys, Toby Keith, Ludacris, Josh Groban and Linkin Park Rule, With Greatest Hits CDs from No Doubt, Sheryl Crow Also Strong
For the music industry, Santa turned out to be not so bad.

Now, if only this late-year surge can last longer than Britney’s marriage.

Overall albums sales were up 20% in the last week of December, as compared to the year before and up 5% for the entire month over 2002, while CD album sales increased 6.1% during December. Fourth quarter sales rose by 10.5% and CD album sales grew 5.6%, while overall albums sales increased by 4.3%.

Multi-Grammy nominees, Arista Records rap duo OutKast were the biggest beneficiaries, the album climbing back into the #1 spot, with a total of more than 3 million OTC, making it the #5 top-selling album of the year. Their dual hits, "Hey Ya!" and "The Way You Move" ubiquitous on the radio.

J Records R&B chanteuse Alicia KeysThe Diary Of… was also a strong performer, selling more than 1.5 million since its release Dec. 2.

Other year-end winners included DreamWorks Nashville right-wing rabblerouser Toby Keith, 143/Reprise crooner Josh Groban, Hollywood Records teen warbler Hilary Duff and two J Records entries in American Idol winner Ruben Studdard and rocker-turned-song stylist Rod Stewart.

Interscope proved to be the beneficiary of a pair of greatest hits stocking stuffers in No Doubt and A&M’s Sheryl Crow, both of whom dominated airwaves and retail registers. Another strong catalog seller was Capitol's reworked reissue of the Beatles' Let It Be...Naked.

Strong sales were also registered by Roc-A-Fella/IDJ rapper Jay-Z, Columbia/CRG’s Now Vol. 14, Geffen’s Blink 182, G-Unit/Interscope 50 Cent posse G-Unit, Def Jam South/IDJ southern rapper Ludacris, whose "Stand Up" was another airplay winner, WB rap-metal band Linkin Park, Hoo-Bangin/Capitol gangsta legends Westside Connection, Arista folkie Sarah McLachlan, Wind-up Grammy nominees Evanscence, Jive temporary bride Britney Spears, Roadrunner/IDJ pop-rock Canucks Nickelback, and Island/IDJ rockers Hoobastank.

The first chart of the new year will be unveiled later this afternoon.

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