Legal downloads start to make money

Legal downloads start to make money

From Forbes: “Apple Computer observed the one-year anniversary of its iTunes Music Store today by adding new features to the service and releasing new numbers to demonstrate its success.

It’s almost funny looking back on the strange buzz that surrounded Apple a year ago. Days before the service was unveiled, weird rumors surfaced that Chief Executive Steve Jobs was also intent on going after Vivendi Universal’s music business. That deal never materialized.

Still Apple has rocked the music industry. Jobs said in a conference call today that Apple has sold 70 million songs since launch, and it has turned what he described as a “small profit.” Consumers are buying songs at a rate of 2.7 million songs per week, which works out to 140 million songs per year, Jobs said.

Real Networks said that as of April 15 it had 450,000 subscribers who were buying 1.8 million songs per day on its Rhapsody music download and subscription service. Apple doesn’t disclose the number of customers using its service.

The download library is also expanding. When it launched a year ago, iTunes boasted about 200,000 songs, but has since grown to 700,000. Jobs said one of Apple’s “next big challenges” with record companies is getting them to open up more of their catalogs for digital distribution. “

This squares with the latest findings from the Pew Internet Surveys:

“The Project’s national phone survey of 1,371 adult Internet users conducted between February 3 and March 1, 2004 shows that 14% of online Americans say that at one time in their online lives they downloaded music files, but now they no longer do any downloading. That represents more than 17 million people. However, the number of people who say they download music files increased from an estimated 18 million to 23 million since the Project’s November-December 2003 survey. This increase is likely due to the combined effects of many people adopting new, paid download services and, in some cases, switching to lower-profile peer-to-peer file sharing applications.”