The first vending machines to sell music downloads are to be introduced in London next month as Britons continue to turn their backs on traditional methods of buying singles.
Customers will be able to download a single for about one pound onto a mobile phone or personal music player and the company launching the project said on Monday they hoped to initially offer two million songs.
The move follows continuing poor sales for traditional, over-the-counter singles.
In October the chart compilers said they recorded the worst ever sales for a song reaching number one — just over 23,000 — compared to sales of hundreds of thousands in the 1980s and 90s.
Inspired Broadcast Networks will open two music kiosks in Waterloo and King’s Cross stations next month and plan to have up to 20,000 others in high-street shops, service stations and pubs by the end of 2005.
Between 200-250,000 singles are bought via music download services every week, rapidly approaching physical sales that regularly drop below 400,000, the Official UK Charts Company said.
In response, the Charts Company started to produce its own download chart to reflect the growth in the market and is now planning to merge the two.
The piracy-hit music industry is also desperate to promote legal digital music services to convert file-sharers into customers.