Music download
A music download is the transferral of music from an Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

-facing computer or website to a user's local computer. This term encompasses both legal downloads and downloads of copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

 material without permission or payment. Peer-to-peer filesharing is a common form of illegal downloading.

Popular examples of online music stores that sell digital singles and album
An album is a collection of recordings, released as a single package on gramophone record, cassette, compact disc, or via digital distribution. The word derives from the Latin word for list .Vinyl LP records have two sides, each comprising one half of the album...

s include the iTunes Store
ITunes Store
The iTunes Store is a software-based online digital media store operated by Apple. Opening as the iTunes Music Store on April 28, 2003, with over 200,000 items to purchase, it is, as of April 2008, the number-one music vendor in the United States...

, Tune App, Napster
Napster (pay service)
Napster is an online music store and a Best Buy company. It was originally founded as a file sharing service. For more information about its founding mission as a free file sharing service, see Napster.-History:...

, Zune Marketplace, Amazon MP3
Amazon MP3
Amazon MP3 is an online music store owned and operated by Launched in public beta on September 25, 2007, in January 2008 it became the first music store to sell music without digital rights management from the four major music labels , as well as many independents...

, Nokia Music Store
Nokia Music Store
Nokia Music Store is part of the Ovi services portal from Nokia. It was launched on August 29, 2007. The idea behind the store is to provide to all Nokia MP3 capable mobile users a music store on the phone as on the PC....

, TuneTribe
TuneTribe is a digital music download store that offers content from major record labels, independents and unsigned artists. The total number of tracks available exceeds 3 million, all in MP3 format...

, Kazaa
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...

 and eMusic
eMusic is an online music and audiobook store that operates by subscription. It is headquartered in New York City with an office in London and owned by Dimensional Associates. As of September 2008 eMusic has over 400,000 subscribers....

. Paid downloads are sometimes encoded with Digital Rights Management
Digital rights management
Digital rights management is a class of access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals with the intent to limit the use of digital content and devices after sale. DRM is any technology that inhibits uses of digital content that...

 that restricts making extra copies of the music or playing purchased songs on certain digital audio players. They are almost always compressed
Data compression
In computer science and information theory, data compression, source coding or bit-rate reduction is the process of encoding information using fewer bits than the original representation would use....

 using a lossy codec
A codec is a device or computer program capable of encoding or decoding a digital data stream or signal. The word codec is a portmanteau of "compressor-decompressor" or, more commonly, "coder-decoder"...

 (usually MPEG-1 Layer 3 or Windows Media), reducing file size and therefore bandwidth requirements. However, this may cause an apparent loss in quality to a listener when compared to a CD, and cause compatibility issues with certain software and devices. Uncompressed files and losslessly compressed files are available at some sites. These music resources have been created as a response to expanding technology and needs of customers that wanted to have an easy and quick access to music. They can be referred to as business models that responded to digital revolution by making legal services attractive for users.

As of January 2011, Apple's iTunes Store alone saw $1.1 billion of revenue in fiscal Q1.. Now they are claimed to have covered 85% of legal music market in USA.

Music downloads offered by artists

Some artists allow their songs to be downloaded from their website
A website, also written as Web site, web site, or simply site, is a collection of related web pages containing images, videos or other digital assets. A website is hosted on at least one web server, accessible via a network such as the Internet or a private local area network through an Internet...

s, or an online music store often as a short preview or a low-quality sampling.It is also compared to listening to a piece of music in the store before making a decision whether to buy it or not[sample sharing]. Others have embedded services in their sites that allow purchases of their singles or albums. The web site Torrentfrak presents a research that shows that 38% of Swedish artists supports file downloading and claim that it can be helpful during early stages of the career. A Swedish band that has profited from filesharing is the rock group "Lamont."

Challenges to legal music downloads

Even legal music downloads have faced a number of challenges from artists, record labels and the Recording Industry Association of America
Recording Industry Association of America
The Recording Industry Association of America is a trade organization that represents the recording industry distributors in the United States...

. In July 2007, the Universal Music Group decided not to renew their long-term contracts with iTunes. This legal challenge 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 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.

The RIAA against illegal downloading

The Recording Industry Association of America launched its first lawsuits on September 8, 2003, against individuals illegally downloading music files from the Kazaa
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...

 FastTrack network. At first, the RIAA's campaign to sue illegal downloaders looked like a bad idea to many critics; however, two years after it began, the campaign had survived at least one major legal challenge and began to pick up speed. The RIAA said that it filed 750 suits in February 2006 against individuals downloading music files without paying for them in hopes of putting an end to Internet music piracy. Many say that it is unfair for the RIAA to choose certain individuals to sue out of millions, but the RIAA dismisses the charge that the suits are unfair, comparing them to those who get targeted for speeding tickets. The RIAA hopes their campaign will force people to respect the copyrights of music labels and eventually minimize the number of illegal downloads that happen every day.
Additionaly according to newest statistics published on IFPIs website, one third of music CDs sold worldwide are fake and piracy surpass legal sales in 34 countries.

United States

Legal music downloads were first compiled by Billboard
Billboard charts
The Billboard charts tabulate the relative weekly popularity of songs or albums in the United States. The results are published in Billboard magazine...

in 1993 , but they did not gain mainstream acceptance in the United States until around February 2005, when digital sales for singles started to be included in the Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

 and other Billboard charts. In the year before, the Hot 100 chart was similar to the Hot 100 Airplay
Hot 100 Airplay
The Hot 100 Airplay chart is a chart released weekly by Billboard magazine in the United States. It measures radio airplay, and is one of the three component charts, along with the Hot Singles Sales and the Hot Digital Songs charts, that determine the chart positions of singles on the Billboard...

 chart, because only minor CD-single sales affected the chart. The inclusion of digital singles, as seen in the Hot Digital Songs
Hot Digital Songs
The Hot Digital Songs chart ranks the best-selling digital singles in the United States, according to Billboard.Beginning in February 2005, digital sales have been incorporated into many of Billboards music single charts. It was decided to do so mainly because of the dramatic rise in popularity of...

, has immensely helped many songs chart and peak higher, in some cases in the absence of a radio release.

Single certifications were introduced in February 2005. Songs that sell a certain number of copies are often certified by the RIAA with the permission of the artist and the record company.

United Kingdom

The UK Official Download Chart
UK Official Download Chart
The UK Official Download Chart is compiled by The Official UK Charts Company on behalf of the music industry. The chart week runs from Sunday to Saturday, with the chart being published on a Wednesday afternoon, so as to not to clash with the release of the main UK Singles Chart...

 was launched on September 1, 2004 and included any Permanent Digital Download track, under 10 minutes long, being sold for a minimum price of 40p (0.4 GBP). In January 2005, downloaded tracks outsold physical singles for the first time in UK music history, prompting The Official UK Charts Company
The Official UK Charts Company
The Official Charts Company , previously called the Chart Information Network and then The Official UK Charts Company, compiles various "official" UK record charts, including the UK Singles Chart, the UK Albums Chart, and the UK Official Download Chart, as well as genre-specific and music video...

 to begin to incorporate downloads for the first time into the UK Singles Chart
UK Singles Chart
The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

 on 17 April 2005, at which time Radio 1 stopped broadcasting the separate download chart, 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 January 1, 2007, meaning all download sales are now eligible in the chart.

United States

In November 2005, the record for the best-selling digital single in the United States was held by Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani
Gwen Renée Stefani is an American singer-songwriter and fashion designer. Stefani is the lead vocalist for the rock and ska band No Doubt. Stefani recorded her first solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. in 2004. The album was inspired by music of the 1980s, and was a success with sales of over...

's "Hollaback Girl
Hollaback Girl
"Hollaback Girl" is a song by American recording artist Gwen Stefani from her debut solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. . As part of Stefani's vision of creating "a silly dance record", the song is influenced by 1980s dance and pop music...

", which had sold over one million downloads, making it the first song to achieve platinum download status. As of 2009, the record for the best-selling digital single in the United States on the iTunes Store
ITunes Store
The iTunes Store is a software-based online digital media store operated by Apple. Opening as the iTunes Music Store on April 28, 2003, with over 200,000 items to purchase, it is, as of April 2008, the number-one music vendor in the United States...

 is held by The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed Peas are an American pop group , formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1995. The group includes rappers,, and Taboo, and singer Fergie. Since the release of their third album Elephunk in 2003, the group has sold an estimated 56 million records worldwide...

's "I Gotta Feeling
I Gotta Feeling
"I Gotta Feeling" is the second single from The Black Eyed Peas' fifth studio album The E.N.D., produced by the French DJ David Guetta. The song was released on May 21, 2009 and debuted at number two on the Canadian and Billboard Hot 100 on the week of June 27, 2009, behind the group's "Boom Boom...

", which had sold over 5,561,000 downloads. The highest weekly sales record was held by Kanye West
Kanye West
Kanye Omari West is an American rapper, singer, and record producer. West first rose to fame as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, where he eventually achieved recognition for his work on Jay-Z's album The Blueprint, as well as hit singles for musical artists including Alicia Keys, Ludacris, and...

 with the single "Gold Digger". Later, the record was broken by Lady Gaga
Lady GaGa
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta , better known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is an American singer and songwriter. Born and raised in New York City, she primarily studied at the Convent of the Sacred Heart and briefly attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts before withdrawing to...

's "Born This Way
Born This Way
Born This Way is the second studio album by American recording artist Lady Gaga that was released on May 23, 2011, by Interscope Records. The album is a follow-up to her internationally-successful albums The Fame and The Fame Monster...

", with 484,000 downloads.

Overall, the song with the most downloads in history is OneRepublic
OneRepublic is an American pop rock band from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Formed in 2002 by Ryan Tedder and Zach Filkins, the band achieved massive success on MySpace, becoming the most prominent unsigned act on the website then...

's "Apologize
Apologize (song)
"Apologize" is a song written by OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder for OneRepublic's debut album Dreaming Out Loud. A remix version was included on the Timbaland album, Shock Value and on the deluxe version of Dreaming Out Loud...

" with 10 million legal downloads from both its original version and remixed version done by Timbaland
Timothy Zachery Mosley , better known by his stage name Timbaland, is an American record producer, songwriter and rapper....


Soon after his death in 2009, Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

 became the first artist to sell over one million download songs in a week.

Digital sales records

The following albums are the albums that have almost passed 1 million downloads. They are listed in chronological order
Artist Album When
Marshall Bruce Mathers III , better known by his stage name Eminem or his alter ego Slim Shady, is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter and actor. Eminem's popularity brought his group project, D12, to mainstream recognition...

Recovery July 8, 2011
Adele (singer)
Adele Laurie Blue Adkins , known professionally as Adele, is an English singer-songwriter. She was the first recipient of the Brit Awards Critics' Choice and was named the number-one predicted breakthrough act of 2008 in an annual BBC poll of music critics, Sound of 2008...

21 (Adele album)
21 is the second studio album by English recording artist Adele. Released on 24 January 2011 in the United Kingdom and most of Europe, and on 22 February 2011 in North America, the album was named after the age of the singer at the time of its production...

July 15, 2011

See also

  • Comparison of online music stores
    Comparison of online music stores
    For streaming services, see list of online music databases.The following table lists online music stores that carry a selection of songs by many record labels and artists. The stores listed below access passive databases and require access through a computer or some allow access and downloads...

  • Digital Economy Act 2010
    Digital Economy Act 2010
    The Digital Economy Act 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom regulating digital media. Introduced by Peter Mandelson, Lord Mandelson, it received Royal Assent on 8 April 2010, and came into force on 8 June 2010 The Digital Economy Act 2010 (c. 24) is an Act of the Parliament of...

  • HADOPI law
    HADOPI law
    The French HADOPI law or Creation and Internet law was introduced during 2009 as a means to control and regulate internet access and encourage compliance with copyright laws...

  • On air on sale
    On air on sale
    On air on sale is a policy in the music industry where recorded music is made available for sale at the same time as it is made available for radio broadcast, instead of several weeks later in order to let marketing "buzz" develop, as was former practice. The aim of the policy is to prevent...

  • Open Music Model
    Open Music Model
    The Open Music Model is an economic and technological framework for the recording industry based on research conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...

  • United States v. ASCAP
    United States v. ASCAP
    United States v. American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers et al., No. 09-0539, 2010 WL 3749292 , was a United States Court of Appeals case involving copyright liability for third-party vendors that provide online music download services...

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