Digital music sales in the UK have achieved 50 per cent of the singles market, and 4 per cent of the album market, according to the BPI, but music fans still prefer to buy new music on CD, a report claims.
A Jupiter Research report claims that the majority of music held on iPods isn't from iTunes, but from ripped CDs and - the analysts claim, based presumably on educated guesswork - file-sharing websites.
The report claims that as few as 20 tracks held on most consumers iPods are purchased from iTunes. That's actually fairly consistent with Apple's news last week that its population of around 60 million iPod owners have downloaded 1.5 billion tracks so far - around 25 tracks per iPod.
Jupiter's researchers used the iPod as the referential model for their study, and claim the figures they have found to have "profound significance" on the digital download market.
Statistics revealed in the survey include:
- 83 per cent of iPod owners do not buy digital music regularly
- 17 per cent of iPod owners buy and download music, usually singles, on a monthly basis
- 5 per cent of iPod music is acquired from online music stores.
Bad news? None really. The report also confirms that the majority of music fans who own an iPod are now actually more likely to buy music, particularly CDs. (Which they rip for their iPods and keep in all their uncompressed audio glory within their CD collections.)
The report, by analyst Mark Mulligan, also notes: "By August 2006, Apple's iTunes Music Store had sold 200 million tracks in Europe, up from 70 million in September 2005. However the European share of Apple's global total is just 14 per cent."
While the report has been picked up by many online news websites as proof that iPod users "shun" iTunes, the real facts seem to be that music fans who buy an iPod are switched-on to music by their ownership of the product to the extent that their appetite for new sounds climbs.
Some observers speculate that what the news really reveals is that honest music buyers prefer to buy tracks in a format that doesn't restrict what they can actually do with their sounds.
Digital rights management technologies are designed to restrict use of honestly acquired content, but consumers value music in a format that isn't restricted.UPDATE: Responding to this story, a Macworld Online reader wrote: "Although there are 60 million iPods, they are reported to be in only 32 million households (people can own more than one). If this is the case, then the music purchased by the household can be loaded on to each iPod and therefore the calculations should actually be : 1.5 billion tracks/32 million households = 46 tracks per household which can be legitimately held on an iPod."