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Punters only paid for 42 per cent of music acquired in the US last year, according to market research outfit NPD, down from 48 per cent in 2006.

Interestingly, NPD reckons the number of US internet downloaders has remained static - but more unlicensed music is being downloaded as people switch from the flakey post-Napster P2P services such as LimeWire, to the fast and much more reliable BitTorrent.

“The number of people who do peer to peer in 2007 versus 2006 has been stable. The number of files taken per users has increased significantly," NPD's Russ Crupnick told the New York Times.

The survey reminds us that far more music is acquired through friends burning or ripping a home-made CD than is downloaded from the internet: 38 per cent of "units" (a 12-track album, or equivalent) compared to 19 per cent.

Licensed online music services rose from seven per cent to 10 per cent - but CD sales are crashing, NPD confirms. Paid CDs fell from 41 per cent to 32 per cent of music acquired last year.

There's a little more at the New York Times here. Unfortunately, the NYT's report doesn't disclose the size of the true music market.

The volume of unlicensed downloads shows that the public's appetite is higher than ever - showing more money is being left on the table than ever before by a music business that fails to make money from following where the market takes it. ®

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