Selling songs over the Internet in Western Europe will explode to a €3.5 billion ($42.6 billion) a year market by 2009, a new survey has found.

Selling songs over the Internet in Western Europe will explode to a €3.5 billion ($42.6 billion) a year market by 2009, a new survey has found.

"The paid-for music downloading market in Western Europe has been languishing behind the United States -- until now. The market will finally take off in 2004," Forrester Research said in a new study.

This year marks the launch of new music Web Sites in Europe, such as Apple's iTunes Music Store, Sony's Connect, and Napster, music download services will expand into other European countries, analyst Rebecca Jennings said.

"Consumers are gradually coming around to the idea that paying for downloads gets them quality, reliable music, and services will become easier to use as broadband penetration increases," she added.

Half of today's online music business is drummed up by young consumers, aged between 16 and 24.

However, Forrester sees that older consumers are slowly getting into the habit, as services expand their offerings and become simpler to use.

Britain, France, and Germany will control the bulk of the market. Over 60% of legal downloads in Europe will be sold in these three countries in 2009. Southern Europe's Spain and Italy will grow strongly to account for around 20% of the market by 2009.

Apple said earlier on Tuesday it had sold five million tracks in Europe in the first 10 weeks after the launch of German, British and French iTunes stores. Worldwide, it has sold over 100 million songs, mainly through its U.S. Web Site which opened in April last year.

-- Reuters