NARM, the music business association, is especially encouraged by today’s report from Nielsen Soundscan that U.S. music sales are up for the first half of 2011. It’s also the first time in seven years a positive benchmark for album sales has been reached. Here are the stats through the week ending July 3: Album sales (physical and digital) are up almost 1%; Track Equivalent Albums (album sales, plus track sales where 10 tracks equal one album) are up 3.6%; Digital album sales are up 19%; and Digital tracks sales are up 11%. Overall music sales (albums, singles, music videos) are up 8.5%. Rap, Rock, Electronic, New Age, and Classical genres have all posted increases from 1% to 13%.