Downloading music and CD purchases

25 May 2009

Statistics are now available on paid and unpaid downloading of music and CD purchases in a new demographic survey conducted by BI Norwegian School of Management on culture consumption during economic downturns.

58 per cent of the population purchased one or more CDs during the period from May – November 2008, with the average purchase being 5.1 compact discs. 50 per cent of 15-20-year-olds buy their music through paid downloading and an equal number bought at least one CD in the last six months. "It is interesting that the under-20s buy just as much music digitally as in a physical format, and it may come as a surprise to many that teenagers actually still buy CDs," says Assistant Professor Audun Molde at BI Norwegian School of Management.

What is the ratio of CD purchases to paid and unpaid downloading of music? Do the large scale consumers of downloads buy more or fewer CDs than consumers who don't download? What is more prevalent – paid or unpaid downloading?

This overview shows the percentage of the population that has downloaded music during the period from May-November 2008, and how many times they have used such services on average. The 15-20 age group has been examined separately to determine how it differs from the population as a whole:


Percentage of entire population (age 15 +):     No. of times used:
Paid downloading:          22 %       70
Unpaid downloading:     17 %  86
Percentage of 15-20 age group:   
Paid downloading:          49 %  103
Unpaid downloading:      40 %  54

"More people use paid downloading than unpaid services, both in the population as a whole and in the 15-20 age group. The number who use both types of downloads is more than a hundred per cent higher among those aged 15-20 than in the general population. However, the youngest pay for nearly twice as many downloads as compared with the number of times they use unpaid downloads. This could indicate that an increasing number of people want to pay for the music they find on the internet," says Molde.


Ratio between paid downloading and CD purchases 

Entire population:        No. of CDs purchased:
Used paid downloading:   3,4
Did not use paid downloading:   2,8
15-20 age group:  
Used paid downloading:    3,1
Did not use paid downloading:  2,7

Those who use paid downloading of music buy somewhat more CDs than those who do not use paid downloading. The 15-20 age group does not differ much from the general population on this point.

Ratio between unpaid downloading and CD purchases  

Entire population:      No. of CDs purchased:
Used unpaid downloading 3,2

Did not use unpaid downloading:   


15-20 age group:  
Used unpaid downloading:     2,6
Did not use unpaid downloading:  3,6

Among the general population, CD purchases are somewhat higher for those who use unpaid downloading than for those who do not use such services, while the reverse is true for the age 15-20 group; the ones who use unpaid downloads buy fewer CDs than those who do not use unpaid downloads of music.


Ratio between unpaid and paid downloading, age 15-20 group

Those who have used unpaid downloading have paid to download music an average of 75 times, compared with 7 times for those who have NOT used unpaid downloads. "In other words, the people who use unpaid downloading have ten times the consumption of paid downloads than those who do not use unpaid downloading. This confirms that, even with declining CD sales, people do understand that copyrighted music recordings costs money," concludes Assistant Professor Audun Molde.


Project Manager: Professor Anne-Britt Gran: tel. +47 46410678
Music industry: Assistant Professor Audun Molde: tel. +47 97785569

About the survey

The experts in the Culture and Management department at BI Norwegian School of Management have conducted a large-scale demographic survey in connection with the research project "Culture consumption in economic downturns". The purpose of the survey was to determine how culture consumption changes in economic downturns. The survey included various cultural indicators such as visits to the cinema, stage, concerts, festivals and exhibitions, as well as the purchase of books, games, music, films and art, as well as paid and unpaid downloading of music, films and TV series. The study will be repeated in May 2009 to follow developing trends. The project is led by Associate Professor Anne-Britt Gran.

The survey does not include streaming services such as Spotify, etc. 

Technical aspects

The survey was conducted as a collaboration between BI Norwegian School of Management and Perduco AS. Data was collected by telephone (CATI) during the period 14-28 November 2008. The sample can be defined as a quota sample with a quota of at least 100 in each county, which yields figures that can be compared on a county-by-county basis. The results are weighted according to geographical distribution, as well as according to gender and age composition in the population. The survey has 1,901 respondents aged 15 or above, i.e. children and young people under age 15 are not represented in the sample. The results must be interpreted within a margin of error of +/- 1.0 and +/- 2.4 percentage points for the main response frequencies, depending on the size of the percentage results. Uncertainty is greatest at percentage results of 50 % - 50 % and lowest at percentage results of 5 % - 95 %.

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