Singles downloaded most
NEW YORK (Variety) — The singles scene is alive and thriving on the Internet.
New research by NPD Group confirms what many pundits and users have already suspected: When it comes to downloading digital music over the Internet, individual singles are downloaded with far greater frequency than whole albums of a single artist.
Research by NPD tracking a broad base of both peer-to-peer and legitimate online music retail stores like iTunes suggests that when downloading single tracks from the Web, consumers chose to download only one track from an album 85% of the time; 94% of the time consumers downloaded two or fewer tracks from an album. Users downloaded the entire album less than 1% of the time, NPD noted.
Furthermore, research indicates a vast majority of digital song tracks downloaded by consumers during those three months were “catalog” tracks released more than 18 months ago. That compares with a roughly 50/50 split between new and catalog sales in the physical product (i.e., CD) market.
Admittedly, these numbers are skewed by the fact that digital downloading is still dominated by illegal file swapping, where albums are not as readily available or promoted. On iTunes, said one music exec, albums constitute as much as half of all downloading traffic. Record labels are anxious not to cannibalize their more profitable album business.
Still, NPD veep Russ Crupnick says a shift from albums, which dominate in the physical product market, to singles is inevitable based on the behavior already observed. “There’s going to be a major shift, though it’s still too early to say whether it’s 20% or 30% of the ultimate market,” he said.
It’s also noteworthy that when users burn a CD for use on another device, only 12% of the time do they copy the whole album.
“In the world of paid services, consumers may prefer buying singles,” said Crupnick, “so record companies must locate a balance between effectively promoting new releases while not losing sight of the revenue-generating power of popular songs from the catalog — and import or concert tracks, as well.”
Crupnick believes it’s sensible to offer a discount when consumers buy four or five songs from the same artist, regardless of what album they originate from. “It may not be all about the bestselling songs, either. Less popular tracks offered as free downloads might even be effectively leveraged to market paid downloads of more popular songs and drive sales of full CDs.”
I’m single, why doesn’t anyone download me?!?
Singles downloaded most