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Right on Cue

On February 6th, 2013 Apple reported that a total of 25 billion songs had been downloaded from its iTunes music store. The previous definitive value was in October 2011 though there was mention of “more than 20 billion” in November. App download totals have recently been much more frequently updated as the following chart shows:

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[I estimated 21 billion for the November total.]

The latest two data points point to a surge in iTunes song download rates. Prior to last fall the download rate seemed to be hovering around 10 million songs per day.

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The new data implies that the rate may be now perhaps 20 million per day however I would be cautious about this estimate given the latest point being such an outlier. One reason for the surge might be the opening of new stores in previously unserved countries. Another could be the usual post-holiday surge driven by gift cards.

Given this data, it would be interesting to calculate the share of overall music downloads that iTunes has been able to secure.

Based on the samples offered by Apple, and the data from International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) we can estimate that in 2011 iTunes captured 90% of digital music revenues and 31% of the total music industry. (I estimate iTunes was responsible for about 4.3 billion downloads and I applied a price per download of $1.1).

Looking to 2012, applying a growth rate of 8% to digital sales (same as that of 2011) and an 8% decline in the physical business (vs. 8.7% decline for 2011) we get 98% iTunes share for digital and 37% share for all music. (I estimate that iTunes was responsible for about 5 billion downloads and I applied a price per download of $1.1).

Therefore it seems reasonable to estimate that Apple will reach 97% share for iTunes music in 2013. That assumes a 10% growth in the music download business and translates into 5.5 billion downloads or about 15 million songs per day. That’s well within the trajectory seen above.

These data result in the following market overview:

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