March 03, 2004

Music and Retail

Diving Into the Digital Music Revolution; With More People Using Legal Digital Music Sites, Best Buy Survey Shows Many Are Looking for the Right Service and Player for Their Lifestyle

MINNEAPOLIS, Mar 2, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Today's music lovers have more options than ever before for enjoying their music. Technology is opening up new possibilities, taking music beyond the radio or CD player and integrating it into consumers' lifestyles seamlessly.

Despite the growing popularity of digital music, a recent Best Buy Digital Music survey shows that many consumers still have concerns about giving it a try. According to the survey, the top obstacles that prevent people from downloading music include worrying about lawsuits (30 percent) and not knowing where to start with the process (27 percent). And, with more than half of people (57 percent) feeling confused or clueless about options available for accessing digital music, they crave information about services and players that cuts through the clutter and helps them enjoy all that digital music has to offer.

The key question for anyone thinking about trying out digital music is, "How do I want to listen to my music?" One nice thing about digital music is that it can cater to very specific lifestyles and listening habits. If you like to listen in the car, at the office, or while working out, you can find a service and player to meet your needs.

Jammin' to Tunes at Home

According to the Best Buy survey, more than half of respondents (54 percent) like to listen to music at home on a computer with speakers. Today's computers, when combined with an appropriate digital music service, a high-speed or broadband Internet connection, and quality speakers, can give music lovers a rich and enjoyable listening experience. Many people are turning their computers into hubs of entertainment, and are even connecting their computers with their home theater and stereo systems.

The best service for this type of listener could be a subscription-based service like Rhapsody from RealNetworks. Rhapsody provides unlimited access through a computer to hundreds of thousands of songs for a monthly subscription fee ($9.95 per month for Rhapsody). Users also can burn music to CDs for 79 cents per track and take their music with them. The service's streaming features also make it easy to explore new music, create playlists, and program hours of music without ever having to change discs. With 91 percent of survey respondents saying they primarily download songs to listen to them on a computer or burn to a CD, this type of service offers a great solution.

Rockin' While On the Go

The Best Buy survey also shows that one-third of people (32 percent) like to take digital music with them while commuting to work, exercising or traveling. For these users, an MP3 player is the best answer, and there are many types of players to meet different needs.

Flash players - which traditionally are lighter, smaller and less expensive than hard-drive players - hold anywhere from two to eight hours of music (128 MB to 512 MB in size) and are perfect for listening to music while jogging, working out at the gym, or just carrying with you for whenever you need "pick me up" tunes. Some flash players, like the MPIO FY200, can plug directly into a computer's USB port, letting it double as a portable storage device to transfer pictures, songs or even Word documents from computer to computer.

When it comes to portable MP3 players, many people think "bigger is better," in terms of memory at least. Given the choice, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed (72 percent) would like to own a larger, hard-drive player with more than 5 GB of memory. Hard-drive MP3 players allow users to download their complete music collections onto one player and carry anywhere from 65 to 650 hours of music (4 GB to 40 GB). One of the most popular hard-drive players is the Apple(R) iPod(TM). Available in iPod(TM) and iPod(TM) Mini models, these players not only have a slick and stylish design, but they also can fit in your pocket and let you listen to hours of music without ever hearing the same song twice.

Find the Service that is Right for YOU

When selecting a digital music service, the survey indicates people want song selection (67 percent) and reasonable prices (57 percent). Overall ease-of-use is another important factor; nearly half of those surveyed (46 percent) admitted that they would be more comfortable with a digital music service if they could "try it before they buy it," and another 41 percent wanted step-by-step, easy-to-use instructions when exploring a site.

There are a number of legal, user-friendly digital music services available, so the most important step is to find a service that meets your needs and works with your MP3 player. For example, the Samsung Napster Digital Audio Player (YP-910GS), which has a 20 GB hard drive and is capable of storing approximately 5,000 MP3 files, is fully integrated to work with the Napster 2.0 music service. The iPod(TM) is designed to work with the iTunes music store.

MusicNow's digital music service is an ideal choice for users seeking broad compatibility with a variety of portable audio players. MusicNow works seamlessly with more than 40 different players from a variety of manufacturers, including iRiver, Rio, Creative Labs and MPIO. MusicNow, as well as Napster 2.0 and iTunes music store, allows users to download songs for 99 cents per song with no subscription fee. Retailers such as Best Buy make it easy for people to compare a variety of options so they can find the right service to match their player and their specific needs.

"When it comes to digital music services and players, it's not a one-size-fits-all world," said Scott Young, vice president of digital entertainment for Best Buy. "We make it easy for people to get the most out of what digital music has to offer by letting them learn about a variety of services on our in-store kiosks and on our Web site, We also are training our sales associates to match the correct service and player with a customer's needs."

"Digital Music is on the rise," said Jim Barry, national media spokesperson for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). "There are scores of portable players to choose from, along with a growing roster of legal music services. It's getting easier for consumers to enjoy digital music every day - anywhere and any way they choose."

About Best Buy Stores

Best Buy Stores, owned and operated by Minneapolis-based Best Buy Co., Inc., is the nation's leading specialty retailer of technology and entertainment products and services. Best Buy was founded in St. Paul, Minn. in 1966. Best Buy Stores reach an estimated 300 million consumers per year through more than 600 retail stores in 48 states and online at For more information about Best Buy, visit the virtual pressroom at

About the Survey

Best Buy commissioned the study to determine what consumers look for in digital music services and players. The results are based on an internet survey of a randomly selected national sample of 1000 people ages 18 to 64, conducted February 2004 by Click IQ on behalf of Best Buy. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Editor's note: The amount of music held per player depends on compression rate; figures based on a 128kps WMA compression, or approximately one minute per megabyte.

SOURCE: Best Buy

Best Buy, Minneapolis
Brian Lucas, 612-291-6128
[email protected]
Erin MacMillan, 612-291-6129
[email protected]

Posted by Craig at March 3, 2004 08:42 PM