SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The growing popularity of CD burning and illegal song-swapping over the Internet has cut into online music sales, sending them tumbling 25 percent this year, according to a survey.
Internet sales of prerecorded music, such as CDs and cassette tapes, reached $545 million through the third quarter, well behind last year's total of $730 million for the same period, according to the study conducted by research firm comScore Networks.
The study found former Napster users flocked to alternative file-sharing networks such as Kazaa and Morpheus after Napster went offline in the summer of 2001. Morpheus' user base grew from fewer than one million in June of that year to 7.2 million by March 2002, comScore said.
Consumers increasingly are seeking the instant gratification of free downloads, and the ability to burn those downloads to blank CDs offers even more personalization and choice, said Phil Leigh, an analyst for Raymond James & Associates.
"The primary message of the CD burner is the consumer doesn't want to be straightjacketed into buying a prepackaged CD," Leigh said. "I think what we're seeing is not only the death of the physical form factor, but the death of the prepackaged concept."
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