Music trade group: Digital music sales set to double –

Song download sales multiplied by a factor of ten in 2004, according to music industry figures released Wednesday.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) says that over 200 million songs have been purchased in the U.S. and Europe in the last 12 months. In its IFPI Digital Music Report 2005, the organization calls this a sign that digital music has 'taken off."

Music available through digital services reached over one million songs in the period, and consumer attitude has grown more positive about digital services as well, with one in three music downloaders planning to buy music legally online.

Digital music sales set to double

Analyst firm Jupitermedia Corp. estimates that the digital music market was worth US$330 million in 2004, and is expecting it to double in value in 2005. At present, digital music accounts for 1.5 percent of record company revenues.

However, the IFPI warns that music downloading is still in its infancy, with less than one in ten people downloading songs and only one person in two, in the key 16-29 age group, aware of the existence of legal ways of buying music online.

John Kennedy, IFPI Chairman and CEO said: "The biggest challenge for the digital music business has always been to make music easier to buy than to steal. At the start of 2005, as the legitimate digital music business moves into the mainstream of consumer life, that ambition is turning into reality.

"The record industry's priority now is to licence music -- to as many services, for as many consumers, on as many formats and devices for use in as many places and countries as it can. The straightforward conditions are that the business must be legitimate, the music must be correctly licensed, and record companies and other rights holders must get properly paid."

IFPI figures show that the supply of music files on unlicensed P2P services has fallen over the last year. The total number of infringing music files in January 2005 is slightly down on one year ago at 870 million tracks, despite a huge increase in the use of broadband.

"I am confident that in twelve months' time the digital music market will have grown very significantly around the world," said Kennedy. "A sector that now accounts for a very small percentage of the industry's revenues is poised for take-off in the next few years. At long last the threat has become the opportunity."

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: "iTunes really competes with piracy, not with the other services. Piracy is the big enemy. Buying music online legally is good karma."

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