The Napster marketing machine is functioning to its limits again this month. New version (3.5 – see earlier post), viral marketing (ditto) and a survey showing the shift to digital from traditional formats. And, there’s some hooey about the number of CDs lost being something that’s driving digital uptake (millions or billions, I lost interest at that point) but I’m not biting on that one. For every survey showing the death of the CD/vinyl/cassette/wax cyclinder there’s a counter but hey it’s all publicity not that Napster’s website seems to have noted anything since May.

As they don’t have the release online, here you go:


ICM survey commissioned by Napster reveals how consumer frustration with traditional music formats is helping push consumers towards to digital delivery

LONDON – (November 15, 2005) – Independent research into the nation’s consumer music habits announced today by ICM and commissioned by Napster, the biggest brand in digital music, has shown frustration with traditional music formats – particularly CDs – is helping drive take-up of digital services. The nationwide survey of 1,000 adults, taken as a representative sample of the UK population, indicates that music fans across the UK have lost an estimated 2 billion records and CDs – either from friends failing to return them or theft – and that we regularly fail to listen to half our physical collections, resulting in a potential 3.5 billion unplayed records lying dormant each month. The missing CDs, vinyl and cassettes – an average of 37 per person out of an average total music collection of 126 records each – is helping drive the population towards digital music services such as Napster, with one in five of us now accessing music from the internet. As a result, nearly (42%) no longer purchase music in high street record stores citing difficulty in finding the right music as the main reason for changing their purchasing preferences.

This growing trend towards digital music is reflected by the 25% who would rather power up a PC or plug in an MP3 player to listen to their favourite tracks instead of using their hi-fi. The MP3 player was also the preferred format for saving an entire music collection in one place with 35% opting for digital over CD, vinyl or cassette. This could be because the average person owns 126 albums but 37% have had to replace their records and CDs through friends keeping them, people taking them at parties or partners gaining custody of them when relationships end. The CD in particular is proving problematic for many UK consumers whose biggest complaint is how easy it is to scratch.

“This latest ICM research underlines the tremendous shift towards digital music that we’ve witnessed all year,” said Leanne Sharman, Napster vice-president & UK general manager. “Napster UK alone now has over 850,000 members with analysts increasingly pointing to digital subscription as the music retail business model of the future. This is further borne out by these findings which show how quickly traditional record formats are becoming obsolete. It’s also worth noting that the average monthly consumer spend of £22 on music, which is highlighted in this report, is more than twice what Napster subscribers pay for unlimited access to the world’s music library.”

Traditional Music Formats – summary of key survey findings:
The biggest issue here is actually keeping hold of the CDs, vinyl and cassettes:
51% have loaned records to friends or colleagues but never got them back
21% have had records taken by a spouse or partner when a relationship ends
15% have had records pinched at a party
37% have had to buy the same record more than once to replace a lost or stolen version
Consumers have spent around £220m on replacing missing records
The average person spends £22 a month on music

Move To Digital Music – summary of key survey findings:
One in five people have now downloaded music from the internet, citing ease of finding the right record as the top benefit of online music
The average user has downloaded 17 legal tracks, compared to only 6 illegal tracks, signalling the music industry’s success in promoting legal downloads
42% no longer buy music from specialist record shops due to lack of choice
While 76% are spending the same or less on music than they did five years ago, the annual spend on digital music (£26) is more than double the spend on singles (£10)
Digital music looks set to become the format of the future with 35% choosing MP3 if they could only have music in one format