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10m Americans pay for music downloads in Q2

Before launch of Windows services

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Ten million Americans paid to download music during the second quarter, according to the latest statistics from market research company Ipsos-Insight.

That equates to 16 per cent of the total number of US-based users who download songs, legal and illegal, the company said. Paying downloaders accounted for eight per cent of all US users in Q4, 2002 and 13 per cent in Q1, 2003.

The Ipsos-Insight research takes into account downloaders aged 12 and up. Those aged between 18 and 24 are most likely to have paid for downloads - 22 per cent of them have done so - followed by 25-54 year olds (19 per cent). The latter group isn't surprising, given their high disposable income and general preference for 'legitimate' product. While 18-24 year olds consume more music, you'd expect this group to be among those most likely to choose free services such as KaZaA and Grokster.

The 12-17 year-olds category is least likely (four per cent have done so) to pay for their music downloads.
Their low disposable incomes are likely to be targeted at media harder to obtain for nothing, so we question the feasibility of schemes to attract this credit card-less constituency.

Males are slightly more likely to pay for downloads than females: 17 per cent to 15 per cent.

"Downloaders of all ages are clearly beginning to experiment with fee-based online music distribution in increasing numbers," said Ipsos-Insight's Matt Kleinschmit. "This is significant in that these data were collected in late June, prior to the recent release of multiple Windows-based online music services." (And around the time of the Recording Industry Ass. of America's highly public legal action against alleged copyright infringers.)

With the RIAA's aggression temporarily abated, and the arrival of a number of Windows-based iTunes-style online music services - BuyMusic, MusicMatch and Napster, to name three - plus the opening of the Apple service to Windows users, we look forward to the next set of figures.

The researcher bases its conclusions on a survey of 1112 downloaders aged 12 and over. The survey was conducted for three days at the end of June. The figures are detailed in Tempo: Keeping Pace with Digital Music Behavior, a quarterly report published by Ipsos-Insight.

The survey highlights another trend: 19 per cent of US music downloaders owned a digital music player in Q2, up from 12 per cent in Q4 2002.

"The rise in portable MP3 player ownership among US downloaders, coupled with the growth in paid downloading, suggests that digital music enthusiasts may be shifting their overall music acquisition and listening behaviors from a physical to a digital approach," said Kleinschmit. ®

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