January 20, 2006

Background -- New Report on Digital Music

Digital, Mobile Music Revenues Top $1.1 Billion in 2005
Global trade group IFPI has just issued a bullish report on digital music, pointing to sales of 420 million paid downloads in 2005. That is more than double the level of downloads in 2004, and twenty times the volume in starter-year 2003.

Meanwhile, the report indicated that mobile music sales hit $400 million, bolstered by the increased adoption of 3G-based services and higher-quality ringtones. Subscription services are also seeing gains, moving from 1.5 million to 2.8 million subscribers last year. According to the group, overall sales of digital music formats accounted for $1.1 billion worldwide in 2005, or 6 percent of label revenues. Digital music catalogs have recently surpassed two million tracks on many services.

The IFPI review also approached sticky subjects like illegal file-sharing and DRM protections. Citing a survey across 3,900 European internet users by Jupiter Research and Ipsos, the IFPI claimed that legal buying is now as popular as peer-to-peer file-sharing in two major European zones, the UK and Germany. In those countries, the number of recurring legal buyers exceeds regular file-sharers by one-percent, per the data. The group also pointed to successful litigation and education campaigns, which it predicts will transform file-sharing into a fading threat. But converting P2P users into paying customers will be difficult, and the group conceded the file-sharing activity remains robust. According to the organization, the efforts "may not translate directly to a corresponding reduction in file-sharing numbers," and data within the report showed that the total available number of illegal files available online remained level year-over-year. Meanwhile, the IFPI remained supportive of DRM protection strategies, even in the wake of the disastrous rootkit imbroglio at Sony BMG. "The biggest challenge with DRM technologies is to make them operate smoothly enough so that they are largely invisible to consumers and this remains a very significant problem in the current digital music market," the group observed.

European Synopsis

FPI European Digital Music Survey - Summary

A new consumer survey by IFPI1 shows that for the large majority of people in Europe, digital music - be it legitimate or illegal - is a new concept. Only 11% of European internet users swap files on P2P networks. Fewer, around 6%, regularly (i.e. on a monthly basis) download from P2P networks.

Legal downloading is clearly at an early stage in Europe. Only 6% of internet users have bought from an online music store, while 4% - less than one in twenty - does so regularly. Some 14% of internet users overall have downloaded music from either a legal service or P2P network.


Legal buying is now as popular as P2P use in the two major European digital markets, the UK and Germany. Here the number of regular legal buyers exceeds regular illegal file-sharers (5% compared to 4% in both countries). File sharing penetration (again based on monthly activity) is highest in Sweden at 15%. Spain and France are in the next tier at 11% and 8% respectively of all internet users (France has the largest absolute number of file sharers). So in France, Spain, Sweden, more users go to P2P networks, but legal online buying is growing.

There is note on Executive Summary and also Facts and Figures.

European Synopsis pdf

Posted by keefner at January 20, 2006 07:42 AM