Music Download Rates Soar

More than 200 million tracks were sold legally online in the last year - ten times the rate of the previous year. The growth has been largely put down to a huge increase in the number of stores as well as more publicity surrounding existing ones, such as Apple's iTunes Music Store and the relaunched, legal Napster service.

Around one million songs are now available online, with research suggesting a market already worth £176m ($330m) across the US and Europe is expected to double in the coming year. The move spells good news for record companies who have blamed illegal downloading for falling sales of singles. The launches were combined with a number of high-profile legal cases by organisations such as the RIAA against those illegally sharing millions of music tracks online.

Meanwhile, research suggests use of peer-to-peer software for piracy may be reaching saturation point. P2P usage actually peaked two years ago, in 2003, having grown exponentially up until then - now it is sitting at a fairly steady rate, according to research by investment bank CSFB.

View: Reuters coverage

View: iTunes | Napster

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