Consumers snub smaller music sites

Music sales online are growing, but more unconventional sites miss out on boom

Online music sales are thriving but the smaller niche "dot com" stores are losing out to the Internet's major online traders, according to research published this week.

A survey of 5,100 people conducted by Internet consumer research company Greenfield Online found that 60 percent of respondents had purchased music online in the previous 90 days. A third of these has spent from $50 (£31) to $150 (£93), with the majority planning to spend more in the future.

But the survey found that despite all the hype surrounding MP3 download sites such as Peoplesound.com and MP3.com, consumers favour the more traditional retailers for music purchases. The top three sites that respondents had visited for buying music were Amazon.com (44 percent), CDNow (39 percent) and Barnesandnoble.com (27 percent). Only 16 percent of those surveyed had visited MP3.com to purchase music.

The advantage that the large retailers have over the smaller players is customer service, according to the service. Forty percent of online music shoppers said that satisfactory customer service was essential for them to purchase music online. The survey illustrated a clear gulf in this area, with only 28 percent of respondents saying that they were extremely satisfied with customer service at MP3.com, compared with 54 percent at Amazon.com.

The survey also showed that high street record stores still have little to fear from their online rivals, with 78 percent of online music shoppers saying that they also purchase music in brick and mortar retailers.

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