Look Who’s Downloading Online Music

The legal issues surrounding the downloading of music from the Internet has done little to slow the market for online music, and probably even helped introduce the process to demographic groups other than the college-age men that jumped on the bandwagon early.

According to a study by Ipsos-Reid that examined Internet use in 30 countries, 51 percent of Internet users ages 18 to 34 have downloaded music files from the Internet. Overall, 38 percent of Internet users have downloaded music files.

Not surprisingly, college-aged adults have been the quickest to embrace this new method of acquiring music. Some 61 percent of Internet users aged 18 to 24 said they had downloaded music by the end of 2000, compared to 53 percent one year earlier. It’s also no surprise that males lead females in this age group, with 70 percent of men and 48 percent of women downloading music.

“Young adults, with their voracious appetites for music and computer know-how, have embraced online music,” said Matt Kleinschmit, senior research manager for Ipsos-Reid. “For this demographic, sampling and obtaining music is just another activity facilitated by a computer, similar to staying in touch with friends via email, organizing personal addresses and reading newspapers and magazines.”

By country, young Canadians and Taiwanese Internet users are leading the global pack, with three-quarters of those aged 18 to 24 indicating they have downloaded music files from the Internet (76 percent each). More than 70 percent of college-aged Internet users in Hong Kong, Sweden, South Korea and the United States have downloaded music.

Growth of Music Downloading
1999 2000
All Internet Users 36% 38%
Male 40% 44%
Female 29% 31%
18-24 53% 61%
25-34 37% 42%
35-54 31% 29%
55+ 16% 16%
Source: Ipsos-Reid

Among those who have downloaded music, 35 percent of those under age 35 report they have downloaded music files once a week or more often over the past 30 days. Meanwhile, more than one in five of the 35 to 55-year-old Baby Boomers have downloaded music at least once a week or more in the past 30 days.

“We are really witnessing the dawn of the global music bazaar,” Kleinschmidt said. “Young music enthusiasts who may have had difficulty obtaining music in the past due to a poor distribution infrastructure or governmental import controls are now going online to get the music they crave, and also discover new music.”

Nearly one-third (29 percent) of Internet users age 35 to 54 have downloaded music, as well as 16 percent of Internet users over age 55.

“Media coverage of this issue has sparked the curiosity of a small but still significant number of Boomers and older adults who have begun to dabble in downloading,” Kleinschmit said. “Clearly, this not just a young, North American fad.”

The Ipsos-Reid findings were based on its “Face of the Web” study, which surveyed 7,688 Internet users from 30 nations.

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