Legal music download services such as Apple's iTunes Music Store – which dominates the US market – are driving recovery in the music business.
The IFPI (International Federation for the Phonographic Industry) told the BBC that new legal download services combined with the industry's campaign against piracy have given the industry "cause for optimism".
IFPI head researcher Keith Jopling said: "We are turning a corner".
Jopling predicts music downloads will account for 4 or 5 per cent of music sales next year.
He said: "I have a theory that there is something about these services such as iTunes and Napster which is sparking an interest in music which is leading to increase physical sales".
He described a situation in which existing music fans are becoming excited about music again, and shared an industry observation that says most online music consumers are also buying CDs.
The services also bring new music to the attention of consumers, he said.