Legitimate music downloads shattered the existing one-week record in the last week of 2005, industry experts have reported. In the week between Christmas and the new year, more than 20 million tracks were downloaded from Apple Computer’s iTunes and other download retailers, according to Nielsen Soundscan. The previous record was 9.5 million, in the week before Christmas.
Customers spread their downloads across a wide spectrum of music. The most downloaded song was “Laffy Taffy,” by rap group DFL, with a full 175,000 tracks sold. A full 15 songs on the current Hot Digital Songs chart set new download records, eleven of those topping 100,000 downloads.
Analysts attribute the explosion in downloaded music, naturally, to the corresponding high-magnitude increase in the purchase of iPods and other MP3 players and, more specifically, to the sale of “gift cards” to iTunes, Rhapsody, and other music download websites and services.
Other analysts take a more pedestrian approach, asserting that the downloadable music market has undergone a fundamental shift in membership.
“We have definitely moved,” says Stephen Baker, vice president of analyst services for research firm NPD, “from MP3 players being a computer-oriented product to a consumer-directed product.”
Officials at downloadable music sites are crossing their fingers that the sales will continue, and they very well may, if sales figures from the past two years are anything to go by. The sales of 2005 mirror an exponentially upward trend of sales begun in 2003 and a huge spoke in sales in 2004.