A study released Thursday showed that 5.5 percent of Americans aged 16 to 40 have not purchased a single music CD or cassette in the past year but have been actively downloading music from the Internet.
The survey, conducted by Edison Media Research for the radio and music trade publication Records & Radio, was one of the first attempts to quantify the impact that Internet-based music services such as Napster have had on sales of recorded music and, more generally, to show how the Internet is changing music listening habits.
The record industry won a court order forcing Napster to stop traffic in copyrighted material and has long maintained that the rise in Internet-based music services was cutting into sales of CDs.
“There’s been little quantification of the impact of the Internet,” said Larry Rosin, president and founder of Emerson Media, which conducted the May study of 748 adults across the United States in the 16-to-40 age bracket.
“We wanted to see the habits of music buyers and if they are being influenced by radio as much as in the past,” said Ron Rodrigues, editor in chief for Records & Radio, which kicked off its annual trade conference in Los Angeles on Thursday.
“There’s been a slight dent in teen (radio) listening at home, and I assume it’s due to Internet,” Rodrigues said, adding that a number of media were competing for the attention of young adults.
The survey also pointed to a generational split. While listeners between 16 and 24 years of age like hip-hop, most of those over 25 “don’t get it at all,” said Jayne Charnesky, a researcher with Emerson.
At the same time, pop stars like Britney Spears and ‘N Sync surprisingly “generate little heat in the 16-24-year-old group and actually fare best among 35-40-year-olds,” Edison said in a statement.
That split in listening tastes poses a challenge for most radio stations, which are targeting a broad audience in the prime demographic of those between about 18 and 34, the company said.
In another surprise finding, 9 percent of the adults surveyed said they had never heard of former Beatle Paul McCartney.
The three-day industry convention boasts a lineup of marquee entertainers like Stevie Nicks and high-profile speakers such as former President Clinton.