Half of young Brits pay £5 for music monthly

Downloading content to music phones needs to be simpler, according to top music executives

More than half of young people in the UK pay at least £5 per month for music downloads, a new survey has found. The news comes despite claims from the chairman of Warner Music that the process of downloading music to mobile phones is too complex and needs to be improved.

Four out of every five 20 to 24-year olds (80 per cent) spend up to £20 per month on downloading music to their computers and digital music players, research company Q Research found.

Most of the respondents - 85 per cent - owned an MP3 player, unsurprisingly with the Apple iPod as the most popular choice. A majority 82 per cent listened to music using their MP3 player or computer.

The survey also looked at how much money young people aged 11 to 25 pay every month for music downloads. Whilst 45 per cent pay nothing, almost a third (30 per cent) spend up to £5 per month, and 3 per cent spend more than £25 every month.

The youngest respondents were most likely to take advantage of free downloads, but 9 per cent of under-16s said they paid as much as £10-25 every month.

Mobiles desired

Three quarters of the 1,500 respondents said they would like to be able to listen to music on their mobile phone, but most were worried about the costs involved. Only 3 per cent said they had downloaded tracks directly to their mobile due to the high expense of doing so.

"This survey shows that whilst there is already a very buoyant market for paying MP3 files from the internet amongst young people, they are very aware of the cost of downloading files to their phones," Dr Liz Nelson at Q Research said.

And it's not just young people that think the experience of downloading music to mobile phones could be made better. As we reported earlier , the CEO of the Warner Music Group agrees, saying yesterday that the mobile phone industry needs to come together to improve the process of downloading music to mobile phones.

Too expensive and slow

Speaking at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Warner Music Group's CEO, Edgar Bronfman Jr, said it was "too expensive, too complicated and too slow" to download and buy music using a mobile phone.

Buying a ring tone is an example of the complicated procedures people can face. On average, users must click 20 times in a process that takes around two minutes, Bronfman said. Buying digital music on a phone is similarly complicated, he said.

"It's amazing that we've generated as much revenue as we have given how cumbersome the downloading experience can be."

Subscription is good

The president of MTV Networks , Mika Salmi, agreed, saying the downloading process had to be made simpler. He said MTV's core customers are "typically young and technically savvy", but even they find buying mobile content too difficult.

Selling music by subscription - as per the newly launched MusicStation service - tends to increase use, as customers know exactly what they'll pay, Salmi said.

Bronfman added that to buy the same content that's typically included in an album over a mobile phone would be comparable to visiting three stores in order to buy the album, its insert booklet and the artwork.

He said that the Apple iPhone is a step in the right direction as it "raises the bar in terms of what music phones should do".

"Now it's up to other mobile phone makers to meet users' expectations. For those who invent with a similarly inspiring vision, the opportunity is immense," Bronfman said.