iTunes maintains its music download dominance as Amazon plays catch-up

Nearly 10 years after the iTunes Music Store first opened up for business, iTunes remains the market leader in digital music downloads.

According to a research report published by the NPD Group earlier this week, iTunes accounted for approximately 63 percent of all digital music downloads in 2012. Trailing behind is AmazonMP3 with a somewhat respectable 22 percent share. While Amazon has a ways to go before even getting close to Apple, the world's largest online retailer has been making significant gains in that regard. In 2011, Amazon's share of the digital music download market checked in at 15 percent, representing a solid 50 percent increase year over year.

"Since the launch of Apple's iTunes store, digital music downloads have become the dominant revenue source for the recorded music industry and iTunes continues to be the dominant retailer," said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD. "There's a belief that consumers don't need to buy music because of streaming options, when in fact streamers are much more likely than the average consumer to buy music downloads."

The report adds that 44 million Americans downloaded a digital song or album last year.

To help contextualize the raging success that is the iTunes Music Store, Apple in early February announced that consumers had downloaded over 25 billion songs. That averages out to about 15,000 songs downloaded per minute.

The iTunes Music Store currently offers over 26 million songs to choose from and is available in 119 countries.