A new study prepared for NARM by research firm Ipsos-Insight Corp. says that a growing number of U.S. consumers are willing to pay for music downloads.

A new study prepared for NARM by research firm Ipsos-Insight Corp. says that a growing number of U.S. consumers are willing to pay for music downloads.

According to the survey -- conducted this spring among more than 1,100 interviewees -- nearly twice as many Americans paid a fee to download music in the first quarter of 2004 than in the fourth quarter of last year. The growth potential of fee-based downloading also looks positive: 44% of downloaders and 21% of active music buyers said they are at least somewhat likely to pay to download music in the next 12 months.

One out of 10 respondents reported that they had downloaded music off the Internet during the previous 30 days. The top fee-based sites from which digital music was acquired were Apple's iTunes (21%) and Napster 2.0 (13%). No other site accounted for more than 5% of the paid download business.

However, the study suggests that downloading declined during the last 12 months. Overall, 20% of Americans aged 12 and older reported that they had downloaded a music file off the Internet during the first quarter of 2004, a decline from 30% during the first quarter last year.

CDs remain the preferred format, accounting for 56% of consumers' collections, according to the study; CD-Rs and MP3 files accounted for 10% and 5%, respectively.