In the last three years, the U.S. music download market has grown by 28%, to $2.8 billion.

“I WANT MY MP3”

A New Report Indicates That People Still Want to Own Music—Including Many of Those Who Actively Stream It
Everybody in the biz appears to be obsessed with streaming at the moment. But this is hardly the time to give the last rites to downloading, CNET points out, citing a brand-new NPD study based on data from 5,400 consumer surveys. On the contrary, downloading is as strong as ever, the stats indicate. What’s more, streaming actually seems to be pumping up downloads.

One third of the people surveyed by NPD said that owning music is “important,” and 30% said listening to an entire album is “essential.” Of those consumers who claimed to be regular streamers, many said they downloaded more albums because they discovered new music via streaming.

"There's a belief that consumers don't need to buy music because of streaming options, when in fact streamers are much more likely than the average consumer to buy music downloads," NPD mouthpiece Russ Crupnick stated, with characteristic enthusiasm, in his standard commentary accompanying the report.

Though streaming services have grown at an extraordinary rate, with some major players jockeying to enter the arena in the coming months, music lovers still want to own music—and that includes albums. According to NPD, 44 million Americans paid for the download of at least one song track or album last year. And this number has stayed basically the same for the past three years. In fact, 2012 saw a 6% uptick in paid downloads. Clearly, this is good news for the biz, as is this reassuring stat from the RIAA, cited by Ben Sisario in the N.Y. Times: In the last three years, the U.S. music download market has grown by 28%, to $2.8 billion.

Not surprisingly, Apple continues to rule the download sector, still anchoring the post-Napster “new normal,” as the company approaches the tenth anniversary of the opening of the iTunes Store. Apple claimed 63% of the paid music download market in the fourth quarter of 2012, with eight out of 10 buyers going to iTunes for their downloads, according to NPD. "Since the launch of Apple's iTunes Store, digital music downloads have become the dominant revenue source for the recorded-music industry, and iTunes continues to be the dominant retailer," Crupnick pronounced.

Amazon MP3, itself nearly six years old, remained a distant #2, but its 22% marketshare is up significantly from 2011, when the company had only 15% of the market.
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