According to various reports, one of the hot items given as presents this year was vouchers for digital music stores and media players like iPods. That must be the main reason why figures showing online downloads more than doubled in the UK in the last week of 2007 compared with 2006, according to analysts at UBS. The industry is hoping falling CD sales (heaven knows why when you can more easily burn to MP3 sans DRM) will be offset by online sales. Online music sales reached 2.9 million tracks in the last week of 2007, more than double that of the corresponding week in 2006 and the largest one-week sales tally recorded to date in the UK, according to the Official UK Charts Co. The British Phonographic Industry said total music download sales for the year topped 77 million, a 50 per cent increase over 2006. CD sales, by contrast, dropped.
The news comes as the European Union wants to standardise content distribution as well as DRM standards, regulating the market by creating a single, European market for online music, films, and video games. They propose to do this by making DRM transparent to consumers with a view to improving interoperability between competing devices (ever tried sharing iTunes files with a Microsoft music player?). If they could crack this nut, then in theory sales would rise of both content and devices, as all would benefit – even if its would be simpler and faster to just dump DRM altogether.