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Study: Fee-based music gains on swapping

Almost half of those who downloaded music in December paid a fee to do so--way up from last year, Ipsos-Insight says.

Fee-based digital music is gaining popularity among downloaders in the United States, according to market research company Ipsos-Insight.

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About 47 percent of people who downloaded music in December and who were age 12 or older paid a fee to do so, the market researcher said. That's up from 22 percent a year ago. The study is based on data from a sample of 1,112 respondents.

Ipsos-Insight said that while users between the ages of 25 and 54 are the most likely to have paid to download music, the number of younger people paying for it is also rising.

More than half of respondents between the ages of 12 and 17 reported that they have paid for music. This indicates that efforts to promote prepayment methods among teens are proving successful, the market researcher said.

"These data reinforce how unpredictable this emerging market is," Matt Kleinschmit, author of the study, said in a statement.

"Who would have thought two years ago that the initial growth of fee-based digital music would be driven be Americans ages 25 to 54? What's even more encouraging is that we now see signs that teens are beginning to experiment with fee-based services as well, which shadows recent reports of strong sales of prepaid cards for high-profile online music download stores."

The study also noted that for the first time, the proportion of the U.S. population that's engaged in fee-based downloading is about the same as the percentage engaged in file sharing (about 11 percent).

This trend is attributed to the general rise in fee-based downloading and the gradual declines in file sharing among the U.S. population during the past two years.