Consumers who subscribed to a music service such as RealNetworks' Rhapsody purchased an average of 11 CDs last year. Those who used legal music downloading sites such as Apple Computer's iTunes bought approximately 10 CDs, according to the report. Those who used peer-to-peer file-sharing sites averaged eight CDs, whereas those who did none of these bought an average of six CDs.
"Our research shows that it's the people who are really into music that are beginning to adopt paid digital services as an additional way of acquiring and enjoying music, and so far, these services are living side by side with traditional CDs," Russ Crupnick, president of NPD MusicWatch, said in a statement. "As the industry matures, and digital music becomes even more mainstream, it remains to be seen just how much paid digital music will affect the market for CDs."
Apparently, the movement to digital music is showing early signs of having some effect. Last year, consumers who paid for digital music scaled back their CD purchases by roughly one CD, compared with the previous year.
"To date, NPD data shows that there has been a small reduction in sales of CDs, however. That decline might be offset by the overall value of the digital customer and the downturn in illegal file sharing," Crupnick said.
During the first quarter, 5 percent of CD purchasers used a legal online music service, compared with only 1.7 percent a year ago, the survey found.
The increase, in part, may come from a greater number of legal onlineas well as a greater acceptance of them by major record studios, which have become more willing to share the work of some of their artists with digital music stores.