Two contrasting pieces of news this week, neither of them that good for digital music services. Firstly, digital music sales have flattened for the past five months in the US, according to Bloomburg. The facts fly in the face of predictions that sales growth would continue to grow exponentially. Year on year the growth is three fold but it has barely budged upwards since May.

If growth stalls for a few months more it could trigger some serious soul searching amongst all involved, especially with a view to interoperability and ease of use for the consumer. So far, early adopters have been happy to work around or accept the market set-up as it stands – iTunes for iPods and Windows DRM for all the others. However, mass markets are much less forgiving on restrictions.

It could also trigger some movement amongst the also-rans in the digital music services as iTunes would remain the 800lb gorilla in the market, leaving only scraps for the likes of Napster, HMV, Virgin Digital etc. Whether that would be hit it and quit or merge could be very interesting. Certainly it would be a case of the strongest surviving.

The second piece of news comes from P2P monitoring company Big Champagne, which reports that file sharing is remaining steady and is much bigger than last year. Digital Music News has the skinny and a table of data to pore over.

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