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Music industry gaining from legal downloading trend

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LONDON - The number of people legally downloading music has overtaken illegal downloaders in the UK for the first time, driven mainly by an increase in older users buying music online, according to research.

The proportion of legal downloaders rose from 47% in 2007 to 51% in 2008, according to the 2008 Digital Music Survey released by Entertainment Media Research.

This increase was caused largely by the over-45s, up from 28% to 39% and 35- to 44-year-olds, up from 36% to 44%.

The survey also indicated that the number of illegal downloaders in the UK was down by 10%. This was attributed to a number of factors, specifically the threat of legal ctionand the availability of free legal music in the form of streams, downloads and webcasts.

About 72% of illegal downloaders said they would stop illegally downloading if contacted by their ISP.

Moreover, 52% of illegal downloaders said there was no need to steal because of the availability of free legal music to download or stream.

Russell Hart, chief executive of Entertainment Media Research, said: "It is quite evident that an ISP-led strategy has bite because illegal downloaders are fairly convinced that ISPs are more likely to act against them than the courts."

Entertainment Media Research's report suggests that the industry can now battle more effectively for the monetisation of its content. One method is to partner with sites such as YouTube, which last week launched its e-commerce music plan, allowing record labels to share the revenue generated from users downloading music videos.

According to the research, nearly one in two, or 47% of users preferred to watch a music video if it was available than simply listen to a track, and 71% said the artist's official music video was the most desirable digital content.

The 2008 Digital Music Survey, currently in its fifth year, is an independent survey of 1,500 UK consumers. It's produced in association with media law firm Wiggin.

Alexander Ross, music partner at Wiggin, said "The survey shows that despite the ubiquity of free music, there's an increasing willingness on the part of consumers to pay for music products if the package is right.

"This is a real opportunity for all constituents in the industry as they continue to work together with others to create those packages."

Published by: Jacquie Bowser

Published 14th October, 2008

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