Music-enabled mobiles fuel download explosion

We download more and more tracks using our mobile phones, figures from the BPI show

Mobile users are driving the digital music download market boom, according to music industry body the British Phonographic Industry ( BPI ). Almost half of us now own a music-enabled mobile phone.

The adoption of music-enabled mobiles in the UK is 40 per cent higher than any other country in
Europe, BPI figures show. We also download more music using our mobile phones than our European neighbours.

Some 12 per cent of mobile owners in the UK use their handset to play music. And collectively we're downloading some 1.3 million tracks annually to our mobiles.

The massive growth in mobile music downloading can be attributed to the fact that we're no longer as confused about offerings from different services. The spread of 3G has also made downloading far quicker.

Mobile music spreading

"Costs [have] come down [as] mobile companies market their music services more effectively and consumers become more mobile-savvy," the BPI said.

Demand for older monophonic and polyphonic ringtones is in decline. But demand for popular songs as ringtones could lead to more music labels releasing songs from their catalogues to be used as downloads for ringtones, said BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor.

"Just five years ago, CD sales were the recording industry's only significant source of income. But digital distribution, mobile and online has created a myriad of new business models that labels are now driving forward," he said.

Legal digital music downloads now account for around 80 per cent of all single track sales and 50 per cent of chart singles, according to the Official UK Charts Company . Many of those sales are now made through mobile platforms.