January 23, 2012, 5:12 PM

Sales of digital music increase 8% in 2011

Globally, online music sales account for 32% of record company revenue.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Online shoppers around the world spent $5.2  billion on digital music downloads last year, up 8% from 2010, according to a new estimate from International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a trade group for the recording industry.  That growth rate compared with 5% in 2010 from 2009.

The grade group also reports that consumers globally bought 3.6 billion music downloads in 2011, a 17% increase from 2010. That figure includes purchases of individual songs and albums. The United States and South Korea are among the countries where more than half of music revenue comes from digital downloads, with 52% and 53%, respectively.

Overall, digital music downloads account for 32% of record company revenue, up from 29% in 2010. Consumers in 58 countries can download music from major services such as Apple Inc.’s iTunes and Spotify, up from 23 in January 2011. Globally, 13.4 million consumers subscribe to digital music services, up 65% from 2011. “Just the Way You Are,” a song from American singer and songwriter Bruno Mars, sold more than 12.5 million digital copies last year, taking the top spot for singles.

"As we enter 2012, there are good reasons for optimism in the world of digital music,” says Frances Moore, the trade group’s CEO. “Legal services with expanding audiences have reached across the globe and consumer choice has been revolutionized. Meanwhile momentum is building in the fight against piracy as governments and a growing circle of intermediaries engage with our industry.”

Apple is No. 3 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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