Demise fears boosts traffic for

Downtime cheaper than advertising?

What's the best way of boosting your share of the music download market? For Russian song supplier, three days' downtime appears to be the best bet, it seems. According to online traffic data, the website's share of the internet audience more than doubled as news of its possible demise broke.

Data derived from Alexa Toolbar users' web viewing habits for the last three months shows reached, on average, 600 out of every million internet users. Jump forward to the period 13-16 May, and the reach figure leaps to 800 and then almost 1,300.

It's interesting to compare's reach results with those of, which launched free music streams on 2 May. The resulting press coverage and consumer interest pushed the website's reach from around the 300 per million mark - the site was primarily a promotional tool up to 2 May - before jumping to around 1,550 on the day of the free music launch.'s reach fell off almost as precipitously in the days after the launch, falling to just over 400 per million, a small gain on its past performance, but hardly the boost the company was undoubtedly looking for. stats for and
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Up-to-the-minute figures for aren't yet in, so it will be interesting to see whether it too suffers a big fall now that users have realised that it's not gone for good, or whether news of the downtime has brought it into contact with an array of new users.

Greig Harper of market watcher XTN Data said: "It seems [] is doing an amazing trade, probably because it's offering a service that consumers actually want - cheap, easy to use and with no restrictions on tracks. Compare that download services in the UK and US."

Popular it is: XTN's own, consumer-sourced numbers put the Russian site in second place in the UK market, behind Apple's iTunes and ahead of Napster.

Alexa's numbers aren't definitive, not least because they only reflect the browsing habits of folk who've installed the company's toolbar utility - which only runs in Internet Explorer, not Firefox, Safari, Opera or AOL - but it should at least paint a broad-brush picture of the two music sites' relative traffic patterns over the last few weeks.

And it's no less a concern for music download sites and others who question the legality claims for its operation and want to see the site shut down for good. ®

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