April 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Study: Downloading Isn’t Dead, Amazon Catching Up to iTunes

npd music sales itunes amazon

Russ Crupnick, NPR Group's senior vice president of industry analysis, headed up the study.

The latest research from NPD Group shows that Apple’s iTunes still dominates the digital music sales market, although Amazon is gaining. Apple’s iTunes store sold 63 percent of the digital music purchased by consumers in the fourth quarter of last year, followed by Amazon MP3 with 22 percent.

That leaves just 15 percent for every other digital music download store on the planet. Maybe the internet does just want one of everything… in this case, one store for AAC files that work with iOS and some other devices, and another store for MP3s that play just about anywhere.

So iTunes still dominates, as NPD Group puts it, nearly 10 years after it launched the iTunes Music Store on April 28, 2003. However, Amazon’s 22 percent in Q4 2012 reflects an increase from 15 percent in 2011, 13 percent in 2010, 10 percent in 2009 and seven percent in 2008, as Reuters points out.

Other factoids to emerge from the announcement of NPD’s Annual Music Study 2012 (we’re working on getting the full report):

  • Out of the people who bought music downloads, eight out of every ten shop at iTunes (indicating, perhaps, that Amazon MP3 customers buy more music).
  • 44 million Americans paid for at least one music download last year. That’s about 14 percent of the population.
  • 38 percent of Americans think it is important to own music. 41 percent of Americans who stream music think it’s important to own music. So basically, the use of streaming services leads to a slight increase in one’s willingness to buy the stuff.
  • 30 percent of Americans find listening to full albums to be important.
  • Each music purchaser is spending an average of six percent more each year, according to NPD Group’s estimate. It ascribes that to teens buying more music, and to more people in general buying music downloads.

It might be tempting, based on these downloading increases, to draw the conclusion that this whole “cloud streaming” phenomenon was manufactured by the tech press to move pixels. On the other hand, Spotify, Rhapsody, and Rdio seem to be trending upwards as well.

More likely: Everybody likes to buy downloads sometimes — even the ones who are still switching over from CDs, or who have already made the leap to on-demand streaming.

  • http://barryeuphorik.tumblr.com/ Barry Euphorik

    I don’t see the appeal of itunes. MP3 sites sell tracks which can be placed on almost any device, itunes “rent” you the track.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iballju Justin Ball

    Itunes you buy the music you pay for, it was in the past drm(ed) but now its not (it includes meta data on your account so that if you share the account you can be caught but it doesn’t restrict where you can play the music) and amazon is the same way. Maybe your confusing itunes with spotify or another service. [http://www.wired.com/gadgets/mac/commentary/cultofmac/2007/05/cultofmac_0501]

  • http://barryeuphorik.tumblr.com/ Barry Euphorik

    No confusion. It was this story that brought the “rented” thing to my attention.