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The NPD Group-After 10 Years Apple Continues Music Download Dominance in the U.S.

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PORT WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, April 16, 2013 – On April 28, 2013 Apple will celebrate the anniversary of its iTunes Store, and even after 10 years the company continues to lead the market in digital music downloads. According to the latest information from The NPD Group, a global information company, with a fourth quarter (Q4) 2012 unit share of the paid music download market reaching 63 percent, Apple dominated the market for paid music downloads, followed by AmazonMP3 at 22 percent. Eight out of ten digital music buyers downloaded their tracks and albums from Apple’s iTunes store in Q4 2012.

According to NPD’s “Annual Music Study 2012,” 44 million Americans bought at least one song track or album download last year. That number has remained relatively stable over the past three years, despite the rapid growth of Pandora and other music-streaming options. NPD estimates that average per-buyer spending on music downloads increased 6 percent, year over year, due largely to increases in music purchasing by teens, along with an increase in the number of consumers purchasing both single song tracks and full albums.

“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,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD. “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.”

One third (38 percent) of U.S. consumers surveyed reported that it is still important to own music, and 30 percent believe that listening to albums is important. Among consumers who listened to music on Pandora and other free music-streaming services, 41 percent reported that owning music was important to them; in fact, many free streamers attributed buying more downloads to their discovery on a radio or via an on-demand service.

Data note: Information in this press release was derived from NPD’s “Annual Music Study 2012,” which is based on data from 5,400 consumer surveys, and NPD MusicWatch, which is based on 7,600 surveys. The “Annual Music Study” survey data was weighted to represent U.S. population of Internet users (age 13 and older), while MusicWatch is weighted to U.S. general population (age 13 and older). NPD’s reporting is based on an average comparison equivalency, in which single albums are equivalent to 10 music tracks. Digital music numbers reflect paid, permanent digital downloads only.   

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