ComScore Finds Decline In Music Downloads

From ComScore’s press release:

The recording industry campaign against those who download and swap music online has made an impact on several major fronts, but the number of Americans downloading music and sharing files online has increased, according to the most recent survey of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. 

The Project’s national phone survey of 1,371 adult Internet users conducted between February 3 and March 1, 2004 shows that 14% of online Americans say that at one time in their online lives they downloaded music files, but now they no longer do any downloading. That represents more than 17 million people. However, the number of people who say they download music files increased from an estimated 18 million to 23 million since the Project’s November-December 2003 survey.  This increase is likely due to the combined effects of many people adopting new, paid download services and, in some cases, switching to lower-profile peer-to-peer file sharing applications. 

“Last January we reported that after the recording industry lawsuits were launched into the public eye, there was a considerable drop in the percentage of Internet users who said they were downloading music or sharing files,” said Mary Madden, a Research Specialist at the Pew Internet Project who co-authored the new report. “We wanted to follow up on these findings as soon as possible to see if this would be a consistent trend. And while it’s clear that the industry’s legal campaign has made a lasting impression in the minds of American Internet users, we are also seeing evidence that a segment of users are simply moving away from the most popular and highly monitored file-sharing networks and are instead using alternative sources to acquire files.” 

New data from comScore Media Metrix, based on the company’s continuously and passively measured consumer panel, show – with variations by application and month analyzed – continuing declines or stagnation in the number of people with popular peer-to-peer file sharing applications actively running on their computers.

Between November 2003 and February 2004 alone, comScore estimates that 5 million fewer people are actively running KaZaa. At the same time, the comScore data also show growth since last November in usage of some of the smaller file-sharing applications, such as iMesh, BitTorrent, and eMule.  Moreover, March data from comScore Media Metrix indicate that more than 11 million U.S. Internet users visited six major paid online music services – an impressive audience considering the relative newness of several entrants to the category.

“Clearly, the RIAA’s actions and policies have caused a notable impact on many consumers’ behavior, with our research showing consistent declines in KaZaa’s audience continuing through February 2004,” said Erin Hunter, senior vice president of comScore Media Metrix.  “At the same time, digital music providers including MusicMatch, iTunes, Napster and Wal-Mart have made great strides – in relatively few months – in drawing millions of consumers to a new breed of online alternatives.”