MUSIC: WAITING FOR THE NEXT BIG THING

CD SALES ARE SLOW. MTV IS CHANGING ITS FORMAT. ALTERNATIVE ROCK ISN'T DEAD, BUT IT'S IN A CRISIS

Like a bored cross-country driver scanning the radio for one good song, the American music industry is searching for a fresh new musical trend. The $12 billion business, which had been growing at a 10%-to-12% annual clip in recent years, has expanded only 2% so far in 1996, a development that falls somewhere between a worrisome lull and a full-blown slump.

The prime suspect is alternative rock, a genre that fueled a good deal of the industry's growth at the beginning of this decade but now, as rock's dominant genre, is sounding a bit cranky and old as it turns up...

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