A new study from marketing research company Ipsos Insight indicates that while file sharing may be down, it still constitutes a significant percentage of the music found on today’s portable digital music players. Yet music downloads from legal services have eclipsed those stemming from P2P and other unauthorized sources. In fact, the study indicated that more than 70 percent of such music stems from legal sources, and that music download services are on the rise. The numbers show how far the industry has come from the days when CEOs would argue that "the most common format of music on an iPod is ‘stolen’." If that view was dubious before, it’s now outright ridiculous.
According to the study of more than 1,100 people, existing CD collections still provide the lion’s share of music on portable players, accounting for 44 percent of such content. Download-to-own sales accounted for 25 percent of music on portable devices, while unauthorized file sharing accounted for 19 percent. While the music industry may be pleased, the study also indicated that 6 percent of music stemmed from users "ripping" CDs owned by others—something the industry considers akin to raw piracy. With an average of 700 songs per player according to the study, approximately 175 songs per player have not been properly licensed or purchased in the eyes of the recording industry. (Of course, that number would be significantly higher if the RIAA’s views on ripping legally acquired CDs were ever enforced.)
Portable music players are quite popular, too. The study indicates that one in five people over the age of 12 have a portable music player, and one in twenty actually have more than one. The study suggests that the percentage of portable player ownership is increasing at a rate of roughly five percent a year, as 2003 and 2004 saw 11 and 15 percent penetration, respectively.
The strong sales are good news for the music industry, which has seen aggressive growth in digital sales in recent years. Sales tripled in 2005 according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), climbing up to represent 6 percent of global music receipts that year. And while younger people generally dominate the uptake of new electronics, persons aged 35 to 54 are getting in on the action as well, with one in ten sporting a portable music player last year.
Radio star need not fear video?
There are signs that the music video revolution won’t be portable, however. Approximately one in three people aged 12 to 24 said that they are interested in portable video, including music videos, TV shows, and movies. By way of comparison, almost 1 in 2 were interested in FM radio capabilities being integrated into players, while nearly 2 in 5 expressed interested in satellite music support. For persons ages 24 to 54, interest in video content was only 1 in 6.
Nevertheless, Matt Kleinschmit, a Vice President with Ipsos Insight and author of the study, interpreted the findings as being bullish for video sales.
"These recent findings showing the desire for broader multimedia content on a portable device could suggest we are reaching a turning point in which consumers are truly recognizing the value of anytime, anywhere multimedia content on-the-go," Kleinschmit said in a statement. "While this phenomenon may have initially centered on music, younger MP3 player owners are clearly interested in a wide variety of broader content options for their devices."
The study (PR) was based off of responses from 1,112 Americans aged 12 and over. It carries a 95 percent certainty that the results are accurate to within +/- 2.94 percent.