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Last Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Napster users 'giving up on CDs'
Napster UK launched in May 2004
Music fans are giving up buying CDs in favour of downloading music, according to download service Napster's UK arm.

Some 150,000 of Napster UK's 750,000 members say they no longer buy CDs, the company has revealed.

And Napster UK manager Leanne Sharman said it was "a matter of time" before downloading overtook high street shops as the most popular way to buy music.

CD sales have dipped slightly so far in 2005 compared with last year's record high when 163 million albums were sold.

Some 55 million songs have been downloaded or streamed since Napster UK launched in May 2004, with James Blunt the most popular artist.

1. James Blunt
2. Mario
3. Gorillaz
4. 2Pac
5. Tony Christie
6. Coldplay
7. Jem
8. Green Day
9. Nelly
10. Gwen Stefani

Napster began life in the late 1990s as an illegal download hub, becoming the scourge of the music industry.

But it relaunched as a legal service and this is the first time the company has revealed details about its users and their tastes.

"I think it's only a matter of time until consumers are wanting digital platforms as their number one method for music consumption," Ms Sharman said.

"We believe we're in a transitional period. And we believe we will see an increased demand for online personalised music services because it's all about how much time do people have these days?

"People want music one click away - one click away from all the music you could ever want, which is what Napster offers."

She said record companies should not worry because the overall demand for music had increased and fans were just buying their music a different way.

Napster also revealed 80% of its users were over 25 and 75% were male.

High street battle

The figures come days after high street giants HMV and Virgin announced plans for new download services to ensure they are not left behind in the sales battle.

More than 13 million songs have been legally downloaded in the UK so far this year - compared with virtually zero in 2003.

In June, market leader Apple revealed that more than 50 million tracks were bought in the first year of its European iTunes service, across 17 countries.

Apple says it has sold more than 500 million songs worldwide in total.

Napster president Brad Duea recently told the BBC News website the online music industry would become an "exploding multi-billion dollar space in the next two years".

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