No. 2: Only Wal-Mart beats Apple in music sales

A market research firm says that iTunes has surpassed Best Buy to become the second-busiest music store in the world.

Published February 26, 2008 8:36PM (EST)

According to the market-research firm the NPD Group, iTunes is now the second-largest music retailer in the world, after Wal-Mart.

iTunes, of course, sells only digital downloads, and Wal-Mart sells CDs, and that's the crux of the story: CD sales are plummeting while digital downloads are skyrocketing, so it's likely that soon, iTunes will be in the top spot.

NPD says that a million people "dropped out of the CD buyer market in 2007," a "flight led by younger consumers." Almost half of American teens did not buy a single CD in 2007, compared to 36 percent in 2006.

Last year, iTunes moved ahead of Amazon to become the third-place retailer; now it moves up on Best Buy, which lands at No. 3.

According to NPD, the "amount" of music that Americans purchased in 2007 went up by 6 percent over 2006, but because that rise was due to digital sales (which don't cost as much as CDs), people actually spent 10 percent less money for music in 2007 than in 2006.

The other news: File-sharing seems to have leveled out, as 19 percent of Americans used peer-to-peer apps to get music in 2007, the same percentage as in 2006. The number of files that each trader downloaded did increase during the year, though.

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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