Napster Research Study Makes Case for Subscriptions

Are CD-based collections causing problems for the average consumer?

A new UK-based research report commissioned by Napster reveals that music fans have had an estimated two billion CDs lost or stolen. Additionally, the results claim that UK music fans don’t listen to half of their existing music collections. Meanwhile, the study asserts that music lovers have lost 37 records per person out of an average collection of 126 discs. The research was conducted across 1,000 adults by research firm ICM.

While the study falls under the highly-suspicious “vendor research” category, some other interesting points emerged. The report also focused on content availability in traditional CD retail environments, and noted that many record outlets only stock a percentage of what customers are looking for. That is contributing to a decrease in retailer foot traffic. “Nearly 42 percent (of the sample group) no longer purchase music in high street record stores,” the company said. Meanwhile, ICM reported that 20 percent of the sample group have downloaded music, with the average user downloading 17 tracks legitimately against six illegally. “This growing trend towards digital music is reflected by the 25 percent who would rather power up a PC or plug in an MP3 player to listen to their favorite tracks instead of using their HiFi,” the company added.

But does the data point to an emerging market for subscription-based services? That is a tough argument to make, though Napster predictably made a strong correlation. “This latest ICM research underlines the tremendous shift towards digital music that we’ve witnessed all year,” said Leanne Sharman, Napster vice-president and 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.”

Story by news analyst Jonny Evans.