Music download services can anticipate a surge in demand next year, a new report claims.

New Media Age reports that 25 per cent of UK home Internet users expect to buy music online in the next year. At present, just 6 per cent of UK users are already actively buying music online.

As expected, digital download services are more popular among broadband users - 8 per cent of the UK's ten million such users already download sounds. And 32 per cent of broadband users plan to in the next year; in the 15-24-year old age group, 45 per cent plan to buy songs online next year.

Already in the UK between 200-250,000 singles are being bought through legal music download services, in contrast to just 400,000 regular singles.

Arithmetically, if the percentage of Internet-connected users buying singles rises from 6 per cent to 25 per cent, digital singles downloads could rise four-fold across the next year. A potential (but unreliable) total could reach as high as a million sales per week.

The Official UK Charts Company has already revealed it intends merging its digital download and singles charts next year.

A veteran music industry insider told Macworld that interesting sales patterns are visible on the existing services, principally iTunes.

In the business for thirty years, he said: "We are seeing that ten per cent of download sales are for classical and jazz tracks, a far higher percentage than at retail".

He surmised that online users feel less intimidated by the complexity of the genres, and that the recommendation engines available through these services may be assisting consumer's buying decisions. "A demographic age difference may also affect these figures", he said.

He also confirmed a significant reversal in general buying habits. "Online, around 40 per cent of sales are new tracks, with 60 per cent of sales being older material - that's the exact opposite of retail sales habits. There, 60 per cent of sales are new releases, and 40 per cent are older tracks."