The most active age group for downloading music, whether it be from online music stores or through file-sharing networks, are young adults and teenagers, according to several studies on digital music downloading. While older adults are also downloading music online, they are more likely to get their favourite music by purchasing CDs, studies show. Both purchasing digital downloads and sharing music files online drops steadily with age, according to research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
The Pew Project's "Generations Online in 2009" study found that the age group that is the most active downloading music is the youngest. Fifty-nine per cent of so-called "Online Teens," those aged 12 to 17 at the time of the study, download music. In addition, 58 per cent of "Generation Y," those aged 18 to 32, download music. "Generation X," who are between the ages of 33 to 44, are active downloaders, but less so than their younger counterparts, with 46 per cent saying they download music. Twenty-two per cent of "Younger Boomers" (aged 45 to 54) download music, as do 21 per cent of "Older Boomers" (aged 55 to 63). Just 16 per cent of the "Silent Generation" (aged 64 to 72) downloads music, along with just 5 per cent of the "G.I. Generation" (aged 73 and older).
Downloading Vs. CDs
According to the Pew Internet Project research published in June 2008, younger people obtain a greater share of their music from digital files rather than CDs. Among people aged 18 to 35, 43 per cent said they get their music only from CDs, with another 26 per cent saying "most" of their music comes from CDs. Eleven per cent in this age group said they get their music only from digital files, with another 12 per cent saying "most" come from digital files. Four per cent said their music comes from about half of each type. By comparison, among those in the age 36 to 50 bracket, 65 per cent get their music only from CDs, and 20 per cent get most of their music from CDs. Another 10 per cent in this age group get all or most of their music from digital files. Among those 51 and older, 77 per cent get music only from CDs and 13 per cent mostly from CDs, with another 5 per cent getting all or most of their music from digital files.
The population that shares files online, through a peer-to-peer network, is slightly different than the population that downloads music from online stores -- though some people get their music both ways, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Thirty-one per cent of young adults, those aged 18 to 29, have done file-sharing according to the Pew project. By comparison, just 18 per cent of those age 30 to 49, and 15 per cent of those 50 and older, share files.
According to the Pew study, 82 per cent of the file-sharers aged 18 to 29 said they don't care whether or not the files they share are copyrighted. By comparison, about 40 per cent of those aged 30 and older who share files said they are concerned about copyright.
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- Pew Internet & American Life Project: Generations Online in 2009; Sydney Jones and Susannah Fox; January 2009
- Pew Internet & American Life Project: Music Downloading, File-sharing and Copyright; Amanda Lenhart and Mary Madden; July 2003
- ZDNet: Demographics of an online music buyer; June 2008
- Pew Internet & American Life Project: The State of Music Online: Ten Years After Napster; Mary Madden; June 2009