The sales of digital music players is steaming along with new research from the US showing that one in five of all Americans owns a player and many more than one. However, the majority of the music on those players is loaded from the owners existing music collections, mainly CD, rather than through downloads. In the Teen demographic, ownership passes through the 50% barrier, which bodes extremely well for the digital media space and content owners. One quarter of player owners have paid for downloads but many fewer use subscription services – a serious warning note for those services.

The content owners have been surprised by the fact that the older music fans took so readily to digital music services but with such in-depth ownership amongst teens, those content owners will need to renew their description and ideas of exactly what a ‘product’ is. Especially as a large percentage of those teen owners are still using illegal peer-to-peer services. Ease of use, cross-platform compatibility, and simple rules of use of that content remain the key issues for digital music services. What they’re serving up at the moment is not winning those ‘teens’ over.

All the major music labels now ‘get’ digital but the next few months and the plans laid down will be crucial as to how the fledgling market develops. One hopes that they will look outside of old business models …