The biggest-selling noncrossover classical album of 2006, meanwhile, was Sting's Songs From the Labyrinth, an album of 17th-century lute music. A blockbuster by traditional classical standards, it sold 23,518 copies in its first week—about 246,000 fewer copies than Awake moved in its first week. The first iTunes concert album from the New York Philharmonic, meanwhile, was proclaimed a roaring success after it sold around 2,300 units during its first month.
Classical's renaissance may not be quite as robust as fans might hope, but it's not wholly an illusion, either. The bottom line is that last year's classical-album sales were the highest since 2002, and the Internet surely played a role in expanding the genre's reach—just not as big a role as was first conjectured. If nothing else, classical lovers should count themselves fortunate that they're not into New Age. The genre of nature sounds and sonic pudding endured last year's steepest album sales decline—22.7 percent.