Legal downloading is gaining ground on illegal downloading, according to research published to day by Entertainment Media Research (EMR), a member of the British Phonographic Institute (BPI). 35% of music consumers now download legally, as opposed to 40% who download outside of the law and those looking to start downloading legally soon has also risen to 25% from 16% a year ago.

Unsurprisingly, fear of prosecution has been cited by EMR as the main dissuader among music consumer, especially among the young and women. However, the majority of music consumers downloading presently are 25+ and overwhelmingly male. From the figures, it does look like that, at last, more women than men will become new downloaders in the future, so starting to balance the market out. To further reinforce the BPI’s public stance, the research also showed that those who did download illegally almost half also paid for some downloads, demonstrating that if the pay options are attractive enough, people will change their ways.

Among the good news for all of the legal downloads market ws a note of caution for mobile operators and those planning to move their services from wired to the mobile space: less than one fifth of those surveyed were interested in downloading to their phone for fear of higher prices and based on the fact that more than one third already have a digital audio player.

The Guardian has a full report with more figures etc.

On a very simple level, the research shows that people will download legally and the future is bright for the digital music services but they have to address three areas urgently if the masses are to be drawn online and into the legal space:
price – as mentioned I’ve mentioned before the average music spend in the UK is substantially lower than the subscription services price point, so a la carte downloads are likely to remain dominant;
interoperability – consumers will expect to be able to move their music around as they want between services, platforms and computers, none of which is currently possible (let alone on mobile);
interface – all the digital music service and especially the mobile services need to redesign their services urgently to