A new report shows that consumers prefer downloading tracks to own, rather than to hire.

Ipsos-Insight observes that: "The recent launch of a new generation of portable online music subscription payment methods may require substantial incentives to encourage broad consumer adoption."

In its most recent quarterly study of digital music habits, the analysts asked a sample group to describe their preferred "digital music acquisition environment": peer to peer; a download service and a rental service.

A representative 24 per cent of current downloaders said they preferred acquiring music using a fee-based service, with an a la carte pay-per-download method most preferred (19 per cent compared to 5 per cent preferring a subscription service), the analysts reveal.

People prefer property

Music lovers who have paid for music online in the past are most likely to favour a la carte services - 28 per cent of experienced music downloaders said they preferred a la cart. Just 8 per cent liked new portable music subscription services and 4 per cent PC-tethered subscription services.

Ipsos-Insight vice president Matt Kleinschmit saaid: "This suggests that recently launched portable online subscription services may need to encourage broader adoption through ambitious pricing and promotional or incentive-based acquisition strategies, particularly among those downloaders who have previously only had experience with a la carte fee-based methods."

Peer to peer remains popular. 62 per cent of US downloaded said they would use such services in preference, when presented with the option. However, when peer to peer services were removed from the available choices, 39 per cent of those surveyed would opt for an a la carte download service - double the 17 per cent who may choose subscription services.

Buy, don't rent

"This demonstrates that while current fee-based online music services (and pay-per-download models in particular) can indeed be effective at luring downloaders into paying for digital music right now, these services might truly flourish if free peer-to-peer file-sharing was marginalized in the market," continued Kleinschmit.

"The primary challenge for online subscription services in this migration is to effectively communicate their value proposition while at the same time managing ownership expectations traditionally held by music consumers", he added.