An international music industry trade group has confirmed that digital music services had a "landmark year" in 2004.

The IFPI today publshed its 12th annual 'Recording Industry in Numbers' book, which details global industry statistics, such as record label market share and, for the first time, global performance rights royalty figures. It also details statistics and trends taken from 65 countries.

IFPI director of market research Keith Jopling said: "IFPI's Recording Industry in Numbers is an unparalleled and comprehensive report on the global market music. It contains definitive market shares of the record companies, commentary on the global market situation - including on the digital music business - and a wealth of information needed by industry players, analysts and commentators."

Indies take largest slice of music's pie

Independent repertoire continues to account for the largest slice of the market, with 28.4 per cent of the global music market.

Universal held its position as the world's biggest recording company, with a 25.5 per cent share of the world market, Sony BMG followed close behind, with 21.5 per cent. UK firm EMI accounts for 13.4 per cent of sales while Warner took 11.3 per cent.

Dynamic digital market

"2004 was a landmark year for the growth of digital services," the IFPI said.

There are now well over 300 sites in total, with "at least 200" in Europe, it observed.

In excess of one million tracks are available through digital services today, and subscription services account for 2.2 million customers.

A statistical anomaly exists: RealNetworks released figures today that claimed two million subscribers to its Rhapsody service.

Sales of physical product over the Internet grew to 15 per cent in Germany, 10 per cent in the UK and 6 per cent in the US. The Internet was the fastest-growing retail channel for CD sales in 2004.