Did downloads quash Idol single sales?

Lower-than-expected sales for the single from this year's Australian Idol winner Casey Donovan may be due to fans preferring to pay for downloads of the track.While Donovan's single Listen To Your Heart debuted at number one on this week's ARIA chart, it sold far fewer copies than last year's winner Guy Sebastian.

Lower-than-expected sales for the single from this year's Australian Idol winner Casey Donovan may be due to fans preferring to pay for downloads of the track.

While Donovan's single Listen To Your Heart debuted at number one on this week's ARIA chart, it sold far fewer copies than last year's winner Guy Sebastian. According to music news site Undercover, Donovan's single sold 35,817 copies in its first week, while Sebastian's Angels Brought Me Here sold 128,679 -- more than three times as many. Last year's runner-up Shannon Noll also sold close to 100,000 copies of his first single What About Me? in its opening week.

Anticipating larger sales, Donovan's label Sony BMG has reportedly shipped more than 210,000 copies of the single to retailers. However, the single hit the shelves more than a week after Telstra's BigPond Music site began offering legal downloads of the track.

Those downloads don't count towards Donovan's chart position, but may have undermined sales of the single. A Telstra spokesperson declined to cite specific download numbers for the track, citing commercial confidentiality. However, the track was "far and away the biggest every legal song download in Australia, by several-fold, and it attracted record traffic to www.bigpondmusic.com," the spokesperson said.

Online activity has proved a decidedly mixed blessing for the Idol franchise. Last month, Telstra was forced to apologise after it inadvertently published the incorrect address for Donovan's site in a congratulatory advertisement, instead directing fans to a site promoting pornographic videos.

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