The record industry faces a demographic timebomb if it does not teach young music fans the habit of using legal download services, a top consultancy has warned.
Jupiter Research conducted a survey of Internet users in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Italy and Spain and found that illegal download sites such as Kazaa were the favoured means of sampling music digitally among 15- to 24-year-olds.
The report says the latest generation of music buyers must be weaned off illegitimate services before it is too late. According to Jupiter, 34% of 15- to 24-year-olds in the surveyed countries take the piracy route, with 6% paying for downloads. The report says that unless the music industry can shift young people from illegal downloading to paid-for downloading or CDs, "the drop in recorded music sales could make the current stagnation look like the calm before the storm".
Mark Mulligan, of Jupiter, said the record industry should embrace the file-sharing concept where music fans exchange tracks free of charge over the net: "It involves treating the Internet like the radio. You give away free music on the understanding it will increase music sales."
A spokesperson for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said digital music had to be "legal, licensed and paid for".
"There is nothing new about the use of free promotions and download packages to market music, and the industry has been doing that for years," he added.
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