Napster blamed for plunge in singles sales

Music industry says that downloading songs off the Internet is responsible for a big drop in the number of singles shipped in the US

The music industry said yesterday that Internet music-swapping site Napster is responsible for a substantial decline in sales of CD singles.

The Recording Industry Association of America releeased new figures that it said showed the number of CD singles shipped in the US in 2000 fell 39 percent. It believes that music lovers are buying fewer singles and CDs as they choose to download songs off the Internet for free.

According to RIAA president Hilary Rosen "Napster hurt record sales", especially singles sales.

The claim has been made before by the music industry, but Napster has always denied it, insisting there is no evidence that online song-swapping has impacted on high street sales of albums and singles.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Napster's chief executive Hank Barry called on the music industry to find some proof that Napster had hurt CD sales. "In order to argue we've done irreparable harm [to CD sales], it would be great if there were some irreparable harm to show, he said.

A recent survey found that up to half of all Web users under 16 have downloaded music from the Internet. Concerns about the popularity of Napster led the RIAA to warn university students last September that they could face legal action for using services such as Napster.

However, a study last summer by research group Jupiter discovered that Napster users were more likely to spend money on music than those who don't use the service -- a finding partly attributed to the fact that most Napster users are music fans, and therefore likely to buy more CDs than average.

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