The digital music market in the UK is well and truly booming with Britons already having downloaded more than 17 million songs this year. That compares to 5.7 million for the whole of 2004 and virtual zero in 2003.

The digital music services in the UK are stepping up their war of words with Napster proffering impressive subscriber figures for the first time and claiming the largest catalogue only to be trumped by Apple’s iTunes the following day, which according to Official Chart Company figures, controls 80% of the UK download market and also has a catalogue of 1.7 million songs. Though, to be fair, catalogue sizes look good in press releases but mean little to the music consumer. Just to complete the package, Apple also rolled out version 5.0 of the iTunes software, a new iPod model, an iTunes phone and its own set of charts.

HMV and >Virgin Digital have also opened their doors, both undertaking a widespread media campaign with poster advertisign, print advertising and strong in-store presences. Some nice design touches aside, the main thing HMV is bringing to the party is the flexibility in its pricing and both are powered by MusicNet.

The new year will be exciting though as we await the arrival of Yahoo Music Unlimited.