A music download is the digital transfer of music via the Internet onto a device capable of decoding and playing it, such as a home computer, MP3 player or Smart Phone. This term encompasses both legal downloads and downloads of copyright material without permission or legal payment. According to a Nielsen report, downloadable music accounted for 55.9% of all music sales in the US in 2012.[nb 1] As of January 2011, Apple's iTunes Store alone made $1.1 billion of revenue in the first quarter of its fiscal year.
Online music stores
Popular online music stores that sell downloadable singles and albums include the iTunes Store, Amazon MP3, fairsharemusic, eMusic, Google Play, CD Universe, Nokia Music Store, TuneTribe, Xbox Music and MyMusic.com.ng. Paid downloads are sometimes encoded with Digital Rights Management that restricts copying the music or playing purchased songs on certain digital audio players. They are almost always compressed using a lossy codec (usually MPEG-1 Layer 3, Windows Media, or AAC), which reduces file size and bandwidth requirements. These music resources have been created as a response to expanding technology and needs of customers that wanted easy, quick access to music. Their business models respond to the "download revolution" by making legal services attractive for users.
Even legal music downloads have faced a number of challenges from artists, record labels and the Recording Industry Association of America. In July 2007, the Universal Music Group decided not to renew their long-term contracts with iTunes. This decision was primarily based upon the issue of pricing of songs, as Universal wanted to be able to charge more or less depending on the artist, a shift away from iTunes' standard—at the time—99 cents per song pricing. Many industry leaders feel that this is only the first of many show-downs between Apple Inc. and the various record labels.
Music downloads offered by artists
Some artists allow downloading their songs from their websites or an online music store, often as a short preview or low-quality sample. As an example, iTunes allows listening to a short preview of any song to listen to it before buying. This replaces listening to music in a store before purchase. Others embed services in their sites that handle single or album purchases.
According to research by the website TorrentFreak, 38% of Swedish artists support file share downloading and claim that it helps artists in early career stages. The Swedish rock group Lamont has profited from file sharing.
RIAA against illegal downloading
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) oversees about 85% of published music production, distribution and manufacturing in the United States. They work to protect musicians while supporting the First Amendment rights. Their stated goal is to support artists' creativity and help them not be cheated out of money by illegal downloading. The Recording Industry Association of America launched its first lawsuits on 8 September 2003, against individuals who illegally downloaded music files from the Kazaa FastTrack network.
Two years after it began, the campaign survived at least one major legal challenge. The RIAA said it filed 750 suits in February 2006 against individuals downloading music files without paying for them in hopes of putting an end to Internet music piracy. The RIAA hopes their campaign will force people to respect the copyrights of music labels and eventually minimize the number of illegal downloads.
The Official Charts Company began to incorporate digital downloads for the first time in the UK Singles Chart on 17 April 2005, at which time Radio 1 stopped broadcasting the separate download chart, although the chart is still compiled. Initially this was on condition that the song must have a physical media release at the same time; this rule was fully lifted on 1 January 2007, meaning all download sales are now eligible in the chart.
In November 2005, the record for the best-selling downloaded single in the United States was held by Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl", which sold over one million downloads, making it the first song to achieve platinum download status. Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" marked the most downloads in a first week by a female artist in 2011, beating the previous record held by Taylor Swift's "Today Was a Fairytale" (2010). The current record is held again by Swift, with her 2012 single "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" selling 623,000 downloads in its first week. It also holds the record of biggest download sales week ever for a song by a woman in history, overtaking Kesha's 2010 hit single "Tik Tok" which overall has sold 13.6 million legal downloads worldwide. As of June 2012, the record for the best-selling downloaded single in the United States on the iTunes Store is held by The Black Eyed Peas's "I Gotta Feeling", which has sold over 8 million downloads.
In 2006, the Recording Industry Association of Japan began issuing certifications for digitally released music in Japan, compiling data from the early 2000s onwards. The best-selling song is "Soba ni Iru ne" (2008) by Thelma Aoyama featuring SoulJa, which was certified for three million downloads. Fukushima-based vocal group Greeeen's songs "Kiseki" (2008) and "Ai Uta" (2007) have been certified for 2.75 million and 2.5 million downloads respectively, due to cellphone and PC downloads being counted separately before 2014. Two more songs have been tracked as having more than two million paid downloads: Ayaka's "Mikazuki" (2006) and Kobukuro's "Tsubomi" (2007). The most successful ringtone in Japan is Moldovan-Romanian band O-Zone's "Dragostea din tei" (2003), known locally as "Koi no Maiahi" (恋のマイアヒ?), which was certified as having four million units sold.
In Japan, only two albums have received digital certifications by the RIAJ. The first was Songs for Japan (2011), a charity compilation album raising profits for the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which was certified gold for 100,000 downloads in June 2011. The second album was the Japanese language cast recording of the Frozen soundtrack, which sold 100,000 copies after between its release in March 2014 and January 2015.
In South Korea, Gaon Digital Chart has been tracking digital sales since 2009. The most successful song according to their published data is Busker Busker's "Cherry Blossom Ending" (2012), which was downloaded 5.3 million times between 2012 and 2014. In 2011, "Roly-Poly" by T-ara was the most successful song of the year, selling 4.1 million digital copies. In 2012 this accolade went to Psy's "Gangnam Style", after selling 3.8 million units.
- "All music sales" refers to albums plus track equivalent albums. A track equivalent album equates to 10 tracks.
- Lunden, Ingrid (January 4, 2013). "Download Me Maybe: U.S. Music Market Up By 3.1%, Fuelled By 1.3B Digital Track Sales In 2012, Says Nielsen". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- Apple's iTunes revenues top $1.1 billion in Q1, FierceMobileContent 19 January 2011
- Universal in Dispute With Apple Over iTunes
- "Swedish artists want to legalize filesharing" 17 October 2011
- "For Students Doing Reports". RIAA. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Riaa Announces New Round Of Music Theft Lawsuits
- Jason Krause. "Breaking up dowloading". ABA Journal 92 (2006): 16, 18. Research Library. ProQuest. Georgia State University Library, Atlanta, Georgia. 12 November 2008
- Downloading Music: Awful or Average? Sapients.net: 6 July 2011
- Hiatt, Brian (January 19, 2006). "Stefani, Peas Lead Singles Boom". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved January 9, 2007.
- "Week Ending June 24, 2012. Songs: Elton & The Peas | Chart Watch (NEW)". Yahoo.com. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
- "Week Ending March 20, 2011: Songs: The Chris Brown Matter – Yahoo! Chart Watch". Yahoo.com. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
- Zee (2009-07-02). "Michael Jackson is the First to Sell 1 Million Downloads in a Week". The Next Web. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
- "Eminem Sets Digital Sales Record". Rap Radar. July 5, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
- "レコード協会調べ 8月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: August Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. September 20, 2006. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- "レコード協会調べ 3月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: March Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. April 18, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2014.
- "レコード協会調べ 1月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: January Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. February 20, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
- "レコード協会調べ 7月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: July Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. August 20, 2011. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
- "レコード協会調べ 8月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: August Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. September 20, 2008. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
- "レコード協会調べ 7月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: July Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. August 20, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
- "レコード協会調べ 1月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: January Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. February 28, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
- "レコード協会調べ 5月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: May Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. June 20, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- "レコード協会調べ 1月度有料音楽配信認定" [Record Association Investigation: January Digital Music Download Certifications] (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. February 20, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
- "2012년 Download Chart". Korea Music Content Industry Association. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
- "2013년 Download Chart". Korea Music Content Industry Association. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
- "2014년 Download Chart". Korea Music Content Industry Association. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
- "2011년 Download Chart". Korea Music Content Industry Association. Retrieved April 29, 2015.