The strange death of illegal downloading
This year is the most successful in the UK's history for singles sales. More than 117m have been sold - comfortably beating the previous record of 115.1m, set in 2008. It is happening because of an explosion of new companies offering tracks free, legally, without having to go to peer-to-peer sites and thereby avoiding the risk of getting bogus tracks or viruses. People are flocking to them simply because it is a much easier way of listening to music. None of these sites were started by the music industry. Two of the newbies, Spotify.com and We7.com, alone have gained at least 5 million new users in their first year, mainly people who previously downloaded illegally. They use so called "freemium" business models offering streamed tracks for free if you accept an advert or for nothing if you take out a monthly subscription.