Worldwide digital music sales tripled to $1.1 billion in 2005, international record label association, the IFPI, revealed today.
Music fans downloaded 420 million single tracks from the internet last year - twenty times more than two years earlier - while the volume of music licensed by record companies doubled to over two million songs. Digital music now accounts for about 6 per cent of label revenues, up from practically zero two years ago.
Ringtones ring cash registers
In Europe's two biggest digital markets, UK and Germany, new IFPI research indicates more music fans are legally downloading music than illegally file-swapping.
Mobile phone music downloads now account for approximately 40 per cent of record company digital revenues, the IFPI said, with particular growth in demand for master ringtones.
IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy said: "Two years ago, few could have predicted the extraordinary developments we are seeing in the digital music business today. And there will be further significant growth in 2006 as the digital music market continues to take shape.
iTunes beats back the pirates
"Already in the UK and Germany - two of the biggest digital markets worldwide - legal buyers from sites like iTunes, Musicload and MSN actually exceed illegal file-swappers.
"This is great news for the digital music market and the wider digital economy. Record companies are licensing their music prolifically and diversely."
Kennedy asked for "more cooperation" from ISPs and online music retailers to "protect intellectual property and contain piracy."
"It is not enough that they share in the success of the digital music business: they need to take on their share of the responsibilities as well," he urged.