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A survey has found a fall in use of unlicensed music file-sharing over 18 months in the UK.

Researchers found that the overall percentage of sharers had fallen from 22 per cent in December 2007, when the survey was last conducted, to 17 per cent. The biggest drop was in 14-18 year olds: 26 per cent said they shared once a month, compared to 42 per cent in the earlier survey.

Consultancy MusicAlly conducted the research with sister company The Leading Question, surveying over 1,000 people. MusicAlly's MD Paul Brindley told us more research was needed to find out where they were going, pointing to the rise in popularity of Bluetooth device-to-device transfers and instant messaging.

"More fans are regularly sharing burned CDs and bluetoothing tracks to each other than file-sharing tracks," says MusicAlly.

But there are other forms of instant gratification than acquiring a recording. An earlier MusicAlly survey, conducted in January, highlighted the importance of YouTube as a music source: 31 per cent of the yoof demographic listen to streaming music, compared to 18 per cent of the general population.

"Kids find services like YouTube much more convenient for checking out new music than filesharing," concludes Brindley.

That's inspired the major labels to bet big on streaming music, and they have invested significantly in Spotify, blessing the secretive outfit with equity and favoured-nation royalty deals.

The survey finds that "more UK music fans regularly buying single track downloads (19 per cent) than file sharing single tracks (17 per cent) every month, though the percentage of fans sharing albums regularly (13 per cent) remains higher than those purchasing digital albums (10 per cent)".

Two-thirds of people surveyed say they'd never shared music on the internet. ®

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