Amazon helps expand digital music market


DENVER -- New figures from NPD Group suggest that the Amazon DRM-free digital music service is doing more to grow the overall digital music market as opposed to simply stealing customers from iTunes.

The research group says only 10% of Amazon customers had previously bought music from Apple's iTunes service. While many tagged the Amazon service as an "iTunes killer" when it first launched, the music industry's hope all along was never to cannibalize iTunes sales but rather encourage new digital buyers. NPD's data suggest exactly that is happening.

"The fact that Amazon's early growth does not appear to be at the expense of Apple iTunes is a healthy indication that the digital music customer pool can expand into new consumer groups who have not yet joined the iTunes community," said NPD analyst Russ Crupnick in a statement.

NPD says Amazon is now second only to iTunes in the a la carte digital download category (for those keeping score). The company did not disclose how many users Amazon has attracted in total, however it did say iTunes volume is 10 times that of Amazon.

Some interesting demographic breakdown has emerged between the two services as well. NPD says 84% of Amazon customers are male, compared to 44% of iTunes, but only 3% of Amazon customers were teens, compared to iTunes' 18% (the latter attributed primarily to the popularity of iTunes gift cards.)

NPD says Amazon's growth is likely more due to existing Amazon customers adopting the new service rather than due its lower pricing or DRM-free policies.