Digital music distribution in the US is exploding, according to industry magazine, Billboard.

The title reports that almost twice as many singles were purchased digitally than were acquired in CD format in stores since the end of June. Music sales tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan began collecting figures for digital music sales in June.

Since that date, 7.7 million tracks were purchased digitally; in comparison, four million physical CD singles were sold. A BBC report claims some say online and CD single sales cannot be compared because so few singles are now released on CD in the US, as labels have reduced their releases in response to falling sales.

Apple's iTunes Music Store has sold 13 million tracks since April, at last count. Apple claims 45 per cent of these were album downloads, meaning approximately 7.15 million digital singles sold in the period. Apple commands a leading place in the emerging industry, though new competition is emerging.

In the week ending October 26, 857,000 songs were sold online, in comparison to just 170,000 in the shops, Billboard reports. One category that bucks this trend is that of bestselling singles, which still sell more copies at retail than online.

EMI executive Phil Quartararo said: "Any way we can drive a consumer to purchase music as opposed to taking music is a win for the industry."

'Bundle iTunes'

The music industry clearly recognizes Apple's efforts in bringing a successful digital downloads model to market. The company's director of marketing for applications and services, Peter Lowe, will deliver a keynote speech at Music 2.0 in LA December 8-9.

Peter Lowe spoke with noted digital media analyst Phil Leigh early this week. He said: "We suggest that manufacturers on any platform looking for a jukebox to carry with their products should take a look at us. iTunes is the best jukebox and the best music store as well."

Music 2.0 is a digital music industry event. Other speakers will include RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser, Roxio/Napster CEO Chris Gorog, Sony Music chief technical officer Phil Wiser, and delegates form the music industry, RIAA, Electronic Frontier Foundation and others.

The event will analyze trends and developments affecting the business of digital music, including music’s growing portability, digital distribution, piracy, desktop music production, industry consolidation, online marketing, and the rapidly expanding number of services targeting music consumers.