— Digital music sales are going up, according to IFPI numbers: Sales of online+mobile downloads were up 85 percent to $2.1 billion in 2006 (does not include mono and poly ringtones), and accounted for 11 percent of global sales. Apple accounts for an estimated 70 percent of the online. But total sales (including offline) were $19.6 billion in 2006, down 5 percent from $20.7 billion in 2005. Variety: While 795 million tracks were legally downloaded online during 2006, a staggering 20 billion files were illegally downloaded in the same period. Also, digital sales are predicted to grow by up to 50 percent this year, to total more than $3 billion. More from Reuters.
— Meanwhile, U.S. specific numbers were released by Nielsen SoundScan, and digital music albums grew by 60 percent in first half of ’07…Total sales of albums were down by 15 percent overall, with CDs alone falling 19.3 percent to 205.7 million units. Meanwhile, digital album sales jumped about 60 percent to 23.5 million units. AP: Gwen Stefani’s “Sweet Escape” is the most popular digital track this year, selling 1.8 million so far. The next closest seller is “Cupid’s Chokehold” by Gym Class Heroes followed by Maroon 5’s “Makes Me Wonder” and Fall Out Boy’s “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race.”
— Lala.com, which launched its ambitious free music service last month, has already gone back on its free streaming music promise. The company, which has $14 million in two round of funding, says the load on its servers was too heavy, but that’s probably the smaller cause. The main reason is probably that labels aren’t that happy with the service. The PR word: “To avoid falling short of consumer expectations, we’re holding off on upgrading and returning some aspects of our offering until we can provide a fuller catalog that meets the demand of consumers and includes music from a broader cross section of the industry.”
— Samsung has finally launched its music service, designed to work seamlessly with its K3, K5 and T9 models…the service is powered MusicNet, and is only available in UK, Frace and Germany. The service is build into Samsung Media Studio, a proprietary media player for its devices. Monthly subscriptions will cost 14.99 euro in France and Germany and 10.25 pounds Sterling in the UK. Individual track download prices will start at 1.15 euro or 0.79p. The plans were announced in Sept last year.
— Chinese search engine Baidu is partnering with Asian record label Rock Music Group on an ad-supported online music streaming service. As we previously noted, Baidu has recently struck alliances with companies such as Microsoft, EMI and MTV, all of which has served to boost its revenue and its traffic in the past year. Release