January 23, 2006, 12:00 AM

Digital music sales worldwide in 2005 reached $1.1 billion

With worldwide sales of music via the Internet and mobile phones nearly tripling last year to $1.1 billion, digital music now accounts for about 6% of record companies` revenues, reports a recording industry trade group.

Worldwide sales of music via the Internet and mobile phones nearly tripled last year, reaching $1.1 billion from $380 million the year before, reports the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a trade group representing the recording industry. Digital music now accounts for about 6% of record companies` revenues, up from practically zero two years ago, the group reports.

Music fans downloaded 420 million single tracks from the Internet last year, 20 times more than two years earlier, while the volume of music licensed by record companies doubled to over 2 million songs, the IFPI reports. It also reports that the legitimate digital music business is pushing back on digital piracy. In Europe`s two biggest digital markets, UK and Germany, new IFPI research indicates more music fans are legally downloading music than illegally file-swapping.

The findings are part of IFPI`s Digital Music Report 2006, a review of the development of the digital music market internationally which was released last week.

The IFPI reports that 2005 was the first year in which song downloads to mobile phones spread internationally. Mobile music now accounts for approximately 40% of record company digital revenues.

"Two years ago, few could have predicted the extraordinary developments we are seeing in the digital music business today. And there will be further significant growth in 2006 as the digital music market continues to take shape,” IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy said.

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