Classical music lovers are embracing digital music services, according to ground-breaking new research from Classic FM Gramophone magazine.

The survey reveals that fans of the genre are as much a part of the iPod age as any other music lover. The research shows that three-quarters of them listen to music using computers, digital radio or iPods, and that 57 per cent of classical music lovers have ripped at least some of their classical CD collection.

The survey of classical music buyers was commissioned by Gramophone magazine to mark the Classic FM Gramophone Awards 2006, the classical industry's Oscars.

Twenty per cent of those surveyed download music legally from the internet, and an equal number prefer to listen to it on an MP3 or other digital player. On average, music lovers download 12 pieces of music each year. (Beethoven and Mozart were the most popular choices for a first download.)

Thirty per cent of classical music buffs who don't already have an MP3 player say they will buy one in the next year, with another third saying they will do so at some point.
"These findings overturn our preconceptions about the kind of person who buys and listens to classical music," said Gramophone editor-in-chief James Jolly. "All ages actively enjoy classical music, with the over 50s showing themselves to be particularly dynamic. Not only do they prove that they have considerable purchasing power, buying more CDs than any other age group - an average 17 a year - but they are also technologically adept. We can see a whole new group of mature MP3 listeners - 'iPod oldies', perhaps - emerging who are far from old in their outlook."

The independent research for the survey was conducted between 14-24 August. Gramophone magazine contacted a database of approx 60,000 readers and the results from this were combined with an independent survey of 351 classical music listeners aged 18 or over.