200 million downloads in music revolution

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The Independent Culture

Legal downloads of digital music increased tenfold last year to more than 200 million. The number of legal online services, where music can be bought online, has quadrupled to more than 230, with more than 150 in Europe.

The figures - for the UK, United States and Germany - are in a report that predicts digital music could account for 25 per cent of total music sales within five years. The report, by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), says: "Legitimate online music services have done what some thought only a year ago was unthinkable: they have proved that they can take on the authorised fee alternatives."

The UK has the most advanced digital market in Europe, with more than 30 legal download services, followed by Germany and France. In the UK, there were 5.7 million downloads last year, compared with hardly any in 2003. The US is at the head of the trend, with a rise from 20 million to more than 140 million digital single sales last year.

In the UK last year, a host of legal download sites such as iTunes, MyCokeMusic and Napster was launched. The first download chart was also announced to reflect the growing trend. Record companies, eager to clamp down on illegal sites, have also doubled the number of songs which are digitalised and licensed to more than one million. Illegal music files on the internet have dropped by 30 million in the past year. The report estimates that the digital music market is worth about £177m in Europe and the United States, and is likely to double quickly.