Music download

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The iTunes Store accessed via a mobile phone. ITunes Music Store in a mobile Phone.jpg
The iTunes Store accessed via a mobile phone.

A music download is the digital transfer of music via the Internet into a device capable of decoding and playing it, such as a home computer, MP3 player or smartphone. This term encompasses both legal downloads and downloads of copyrighted material without permission or legal payment. According to a Nielsen report, downloadable music accounted for 55.9% of all music sales in the US in 2012. [nb 1] [1] By the beginning of 2011, Apple's iTunes Store alone made US$1.1 billion of revenue in the first quarter of its fiscal year. [2]

MP3 player electronic device that can play digital audio files

An MP3 player or Digital Audio Player is an electronic device that can play digital audio files. It is a type of Portable Media Player. The term 'MP3 player' is a misnomer, as most players play more than the MP3 file format.

Smartphone Multi-purpose mobile device

Smartphones are a class of mobile phones and of multi-purpose mobile computing devices. They are distinguished from feature phones by their stronger hardware capabilities and extensive mobile operating systems, which facilitate wider software, internet, and multimedia functionality, alongside core phone functions such as voice calls and text messaging. Smartphones typically include various sensors that can be leveraged by their software, such as a magnetometer, proximity sensors, barometer, gyroscope and accelerometer, and support wireless communications protocols such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and satellite navigation.

In computer networks, download means to receive data from a remote system, typically a server such as a web server, an FTP server, an email server, or other similar systems. This contrasts with uploading, where data is sent to a remote server. A download is a file offered for downloading or that has been downloaded, or the process of receiving such a file.


Online music store

Paid downloads are sometimes encoded with Digital Rights Management that restricts copying the music or playing purchased songs on certain digital audio players. They are almost always compressed using a lossy codec (usually MPEG-1 Layer 3, Windows Media, or AAC), which reduces file size and bandwidth requirements. These music resources have been created as a response to expanding technology and needs of customers that wanted easy, quick access to music. Their business models respond to the "download revolution" by making legal services attractive for users.

In signal processing, data compression, source coding, or bit-rate reduction involves encoding information using fewer bits than the original representation. Compression can be either lossy or lossless. Lossless compression reduces bits by identifying and eliminating statistical redundancy. No information is lost in lossless compression. Lossy compression reduces bits by removing unnecessary or less important information.

Lossy compression data compression approach that reduces data size while discarding or channing some of it

In information technology, lossy compression or irreversible compression is the class of data encoding methods that uses inexact approximations and partial data discarding to represent the content. These techniques are used to reduce data size for storing, handling, and transmitting content. The different versions of the photo of the cat to the right show how higher degrees of approximation create coarser images as more details are removed. This is opposed to lossless data compression which does not degrade the data. The amount of data reduction possible using lossy compression is much higher than through lossless techniques.

A codec is a device or computer program for encoding or decoding a digital data stream or signal. Codec is a portmanteau of coder-decoder.

Even legal music downloads have faced a number of challenges from artists, record labels and the Recording Industry Association of America. In July 2007, the Universal Music Group decided not to renew their long-term contracts with iTunes. This decision was primarily based upon the issue of pricing of songs, as Universal wanted to be able to charge more or less depending on the artist, a shift away from iTunes' standard—at the time—99 cents per song pricing. Many industry leaders feel that this is only the first of many show-downs between Apple Inc. and the various record labels. [3]

Recording Industry Association of America Trade organization representing the recording industry in the U.S.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization that represents the recording industry in the United States. Its members consist of record labels and distributors, which the RIAA says "create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legally sold recorded music in the United States." The RIAA headquarters is in Washington, D.C.

Apple Inc. Technology company; developer of consumer electronics and multimedia platforms

Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California, that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. It is considered one of the Big Four tech companies along with Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

According to research by the website TorrentFreak, 38% of Swedish artists support file share downloading and claim that it helps artists in early career stages. The Swedish rock group Lamont has profited from file sharing. [4]

<i>TorrentFreak</i> Blog on file sharing, copyright infringement, and digital rights

TorrentFreak is a blog dedicated to reporting the latest news and trends on the BitTorrent protocol and file sharing, as well as on copyright infringement and digital rights.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund Strait. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. The capital city is Stockholm. Sweden has a total population of 10.3 million of which 2.5 million have a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi) and the highest urban concentration is in the central and southern half of the country.

RIAA against illegal downloading

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) oversees about 85% of published music production, distribution and manufacturing in the United States. They work to protect musicians while supporting the First Amendment rights. Their stated goal is to support artists' creativity and help them not be cheated out of money by illegal downloading. [5] The Recording Industry Association of America launched its first lawsuits on 8 September 2003, against individuals who illegally downloaded music files from the Kazaa FastTrack network.

First Amendment to the United States Constitution Law guaranteeing freedom of speech, religion, assembly, press and petitions and prohibiting establishment of an official religion

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws which respect an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

Kazaa peer-to-peer file sharing application

Kazaa Media Desktop started as a peer-to-peer file sharing application using the FastTrack protocol licensed by Joltid Ltd. and operated as Kazaa by Sharman Networks. Kazaa was subsequently under license as a legal music subscription service by Atrinsic, Inc. According to one of its creators, Jaan Tallinn, Kazaa is pronounced ka-ZAH.

FastTrack is a peer-to-peer (P2P) protocol that was used by the Kazaa, Grokster, iMesh and Morpheus file sharing programs. FastTrack was the most popular file sharing network in 2003, and used mainly for the exchange of music mp3 files. The network had approximately 2.4 million concurrent users in 2003. It is estimated that the total number of users was greater than that of Napster at its peak.

Two years after it began, the campaign survived at least one major legal challenge.[ citation needed ] The RIAA said it filed 750 suits in February 2006 [6] against individuals downloading music files without paying for them in hopes of putting an end to Internet music piracy. The RIAA hopes their campaign will force people to respect the copyrights of music labels and eventually minimize the number of illegal downloads. [7]

Music piracy is the copying and distributing of recordings of a piece of music for which the rights owners did not give consent. In the contemporary legal environment, it is a form of copyright infringement, which may be either a civil wrong or a crime depending on jurisdiction. The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw much controversy over the ethics of redistributing media content, how much production and distribution companies in the media were losing, and the very scope of what ought to be considered piracy — and cases involving the piracy of music were among the most frequently discussed in the debate.

The Official Charts Company began to incorporate downloads in the UK Singles Chart on 17 April 2005, at which time Radio 1 stopped broadcasting the separate download chart,[ citation needed ] although the chart is still compiled. Initially this was on condition that the song must have a physical media release at the same time; this rule was fully lifted on 1 January 2007, meaning all download sales are now eligible in the chart.[ citation needed ]

Sales records

United Kingdom

Music downloads have been measured by the Official Charts Company since 2004 and included in the main UK Singles Chart from 2005. The most downloaded song in the UK is "Happy" by Pharrell Williams with over 1.8 million downloads. [8]

United States

In November 2005, the record for the best-selling downloaded single in the United States was held by Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl", which sold over one million downloads, making it the first song to achieve platinum download status. [9] As of July 2012, the record for the best-selling downloaded single in the United States on the iTunes Store is held by The Black Eyed Peas's "I Gotta Feeling", which has sold over 8 million downloads. [10] [11]

Soon after his death in 2009, Michael Jackson became the first artist to sell over one million songs downloaded via the Internet in one week. [12] However, Adele marks the most downloads sold by a single song in a week, with "Hello" selling 1.12 million copies in November 2015.

Eminem's seventh studio album, Recovery (2010), became the first album to sell one million digital copies. [13]

Beyoncé's self-titled fifth studio album became the fastest-selling album within 24 hours in iTunes history after its release in December 2013. Within 24 hours of availability, the album sold 430,000 digital copies. Adele's third studio album 25 became the fastest-selling album in a week iTunes history after it was released on 20 November 2015. It sold 1.64 million digital copies in its first week (included preorders on the iTunes store since the release of the album's lead single "Hello" in October 2015).


In 2006, the Recording Industry Association of Japan began issuing certifications for digitally released music in Japan, compiling data from the early 2000s onwards. [14] The best-selling song is Fukushima-based vocal group Greeeen's song "Kiseki" (2008), which was certified for being legally downloaded four million times between 2008 and 2015, [15] followed by R&B singer Thelma Aoyama's "Soba ni Iru ne" (2008) featuring rapper SoulJa, which was certified for three million downloads between 2008 and 2014. [16] Greeeen's song "Ai Uta" (2007) ranks as the third highest certified song, with 2.5 million downloads tracked between 2007 and 2009. [17] [18] Two more songs have sold more than two million paid downloads: Ayaka's "Mikazuki" (2006) and Kobukuro's "Tsubomi" (2007). [19] The most successful ringtone in Japan is Moldovan-Romanian band O-Zone's "Dragostea din tei" (2003), known locally as "Koi no Maiahi"(恋のマイアヒ), which was certified as having four million units sold. [14]

In Japan, only two albums have received digital certifications by the RIAJ. The first was Songs for Japan (2011), a charity compilation album raising profits for the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which was certified gold for 100,000 downloads in June 2011. [20] The second album was the Japanese language cast recording of the Frozen soundtrack, which sold 100,000 copies between its release in March 2014 and January 2015. [21]

South Korea

In South Korea, Gaon Digital Chart has been tracking digital sales since 2009. The most successful song according to their published data is Busker Busker's "Cherry Blossom Ending" (2012), which was downloaded over 7 million times between 2012 and 2017. [22] [23] [24] [25] In 2011, "Roly-Poly" by T-ara was the most successful song of the year, selling 4.1 million digital copies. [26] In 2012 this accolade went to Psy's "Gangnam Style", after selling 3.8 million units. [22]

See also


  1. "All music sales" refers to albums plus track equivalent albums. A track equivalent album equates to 10 tracks.

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