What You Didn’t Know About Online Music

We’re as sick of hearing about Napster and the RIAA and music downloads as anyone, but there has been some interesting research done on the download music sites and their crowd lately, and it looks at the side of the story that doesn’t smell like a dead horse.

It makes sense when you think about it: for every lawsuit that’s announced concerning Napster and RIAA and copyright infringement, people head to the sites, whether it’s to be rebellious, see what the stink is about, or just to download some tunes. And it’s not just Napster that gains traffic when it makes the news.

According to AdRelevance, in the week following the July 26 Napster ruling, user traffic to Internet music sites increased by 22 percent. Even a few advertisers have followed these eyeballs straight to opportunity. AdRelevance found that in the weeks following the Napster injunction, online music sites such as AudioFind, Live365, and Sonic.net all posted impressive individual advertising revenue gains. Advertisers such as MSN and Nullsoft increased their advertising on music sites by a combined 100 percent in the weeks after the Napster ruling.

Advertising on Music Sites
Six Weeks Prior to Napster Ruling Six Weeks After Napster Ruling
Company Spending Company Spending
Freeinternet.com $1,600,000 MSN $2,300,000
Nullsoft $1,400,000 State Farm Insurance $1,900,000
Citicorp $960,000 Nullsoft $1,700,000
MSN $590,000 Bonzi Software $1,200,000
Sephora $570,000 Allstate Insurance $1,000,000
GTE $530,000 MTV Networks $720,000
Active ISP $430,000 Sephora $580,000
ePeople $430,000 Network Solutions $480,000
MTV Networks $400,000 X10 $370,000
Intel $390,000 Citicorp $370,000
Total $7,300,000 Total $10,620,000
Source: AdRelevance

Perhaps the bigger surprise comes from who may be seeing these ads. Media Metrix found that more than 6.8 million Americans age 50 and over visited music-related Web sites in June of 2000, including site genres like music-entertainment, online retailers, and multimedia software-download sites. Unique visitors 50 and older to these sites are up 92 percent from 3,555,000 in June of 1999, outpacing the overall US population’s growth of 45 percent to these music-related sites during the same period.

“Despite stereotypes about online music being limited to younger audiences, music sites are becoming increasingly popular among older Americans,” said Doug McFarland, president Media Metrix. “In fact, this audience’s use of music-related sites has grown at an even faster rate than their usage of the Web overall. Keeping an eye on this burgeoning demographic will be key for Internet marketers.”

Unique Visitors to Music Sites
Category Age Unique Visitors
% Growth
June 2000 June 1999
All Music Sites Age 2+ 39,212 27,023 45.1%
Age 50+ 6,811 3,555 91.6%
Music Entertainment Age 2+ 27,157 16,063 69.1%
Age 50+ 4,703 2,033 131.3%
Music Retail Age 2+ 24,395 19,712 23.8%
Age 50+ 4,355 2,537 71.7%
Music Software Download Age 2+ 19,379 10,274 88.6%
Age 50+ 3,447 1,508 128.6%
Source: Media Metrix

Unique visitors 50 and older to music-entertainment destinations jumped from 2,033,000 in June 1999 to 4,703,000 in June 2000, a 131 percent increase. Top sites in June 2000 include Real.com with 2,736,000 visitors 50 and older; Windowsmedia.com, with 966,000 as well as other more narrowly focused music-entertainment sites like Planetofmusic.com with 733,000 and mp3.com with 448,000.

In addition to discovering music-entertainment Web sites, older Americans are also flocking to online retailers where music can be purchased. In June of 2000, 4,355,000 persons 50 and over visited sites such as Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Buy.com, and BMGMusicService.com.

Older Americans are also using multimedia players that let them take advantage of digital content, according to Media Metrix. The June 2000 SoftUsage Report found that more than 15 million persons age 35 to 54 and more than 4,000,000 persons age 55 and over used a multimedia player, such as RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, QuickTime, RealJukebox, and MusicMatch JukeBox, during that month. But their use of music-related applications does not stop there. Also in June of 2000, 1,636,000 persons age 35 to 54 and 144,000 persons age 55 and over used (and here’s that word again) Napster.

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