Music sales are propelling an explosion in online content spending, research claims.

The US Online Publishers Association says spending on digital content climbed 15 per cent last year, reaching "a record" $2 billion.

It was also the first year in which the average per-head consumer spend climbed above $100.

"Consumers are viewing the web platform and going online as a major destination for entertainment," said Pam Horan, vice president of marketing and membership for the New York-based trade group of media companies.

Entertainment and lifestyle content is emerging as the primary driver for paid content, surpassing personals and dating as cash cow.

"The entertainment/lifestyle and games categories continued to experience the greatest growth in 2005, solidifying the web as an entertainment destination for US consumers," said Horan. "Digital music led the entertainment category and, with the availability of new devices and video content, we expect this momentum to continue."