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Digital music sales near $1bn

iTunes sales and mobile phone downloads surge

Digital music sales continue to grow, in revenue and as a percentage of overall music sales, according to research from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

During the first half of the year, digital music sales grew 106 percent compared to the same period last year to reach $945 million. Digital sales now account for 11 percent of the recorded music market worldwide, up from 5.5 percent in December 2005.

While still a small portion of overall sales, mobile song downloads have grown unexpectedly, said Gabriella Lopes, a senior analyst for the IFPI. In December, mobile song downloads accounted for 3 percent of digital music sales but during the first half of this year they made up 6 percent, she said.

Worldwide, master ringtone downloads made up 32 percent of all digital music sales, according to the IFPI. Online single track downloads from sites like iTunes also accounted for 32 percent of sales, followed by full albums with 15 percent. Subscriptions made up 7 percent of digital music sales for the half-year.

Koreans are some of the most avid digital music consumers, with 51 percent of music sales there coming from digital sales. In the US, 18 percent of music sales were made through digital channels in the first half of the year.

Growth in physical music sales was a mixed bag during the half-year. Japan recorded a 12 percent increase while France had a 9 percent decrease and the US had a decrease of 7 percent. Overall, physical music sales declined by 10 percent worldwide, leading to a four percent decline in total music sales for the half-year.

The IFPI blames piracy and competition for consumer spending for the decline in sales. The music industry is competing for young people's cash with other products like clothing, mobile phones, games and other entertainment products, Lopes said.

The music industry has won several high-profile cases recently to close down websites that help consumers illegally share copyright music without benefiting the copyright owners. But piracy continues to compete for legitimate music sales, the IFPI said.


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