London, UK (August 1, 2007) -- Falling CD prices and a lack of concern over the threat of prosecution means that illegal digital music downloading is at a record high and rising, according to the UK's Entertainment Media Research. The researcher's fourth annual Digital Music Survey also reveals that social networks are changing the way music is discovered, purchased and consumed as the growth of legal downloads slows.
The survey, which polled 1,700 UK consumers, discovered that the number of people claiming to have illegally downloaded music has increased from 36 percent last year to 43 percent in 2007. Concern over the threat of legal action appears to be waning, with only 33 percent worried about prosecution, down from 42 percent in 2006. Eighteen percent of respondents said they would continue to illegally download tracks, compared with eight percent last year.
Meanwhile, the growth of legal downloading, which the labels hoped would help offset the shortfall due to declining physical media sales, has slowed. Legal downloads increased 40 percent between 2005 and 2006, but that rate of increase has dropped to just 16 percent over the last 12 months.
The report points to the decline in CD retail prices as a factor in the erosion of the perceived value of authorized downloads. One answer might be differential pricing, the report suggests, with 84 percent of consumers believing that older downloads should be less expensive and 48 percent stating they would be prepared to pay more for newer tracks.
Social networking sites such as MySpace, YouTube and Bebo have become increasingly important in the discovery of new music, according to respondents. Over half of those surveyed visit such sites to find new music, and 30 percent claim they went on to buy or download music that they discovered there.
But the purchasing process apparently needs some work: 46 percent of those surveyed who visit social networking sites expressed a wish that it was easier to immediately acquire tracks using a "buy now" button or similar means.
Entertainment Media Research: 2007 Digital Music Survey