Record companies could be wrong trying to kill off music downloads according to a recent survey from Music Research and Programming.

Its research amongst 500 'music loving' 13-45 year olds, a sample culled from its database of 35,000 users, showed that downloading tracks encourage album buying, rather that putting people off paying for music. It found that of the 91 percent of users to downloaded individual tracks, 87 percent went on to buy the whole album.

But while the record labels may be pleased with this piece of news, it isn't such good news for singles sales, as only 13 percent of those who downloaded tracks went on to buy songs in that format.

It appears that most of the respondents viewed downloads as a sort of try before you buy trial, as while 41 percent said they were heavy downloaders, taking 100-plus tracks from the net, only 38 percent said they were actually buying less music than before.

This is backed up by some of the reasons given for downloading music, as 66 percent of those asked said that they copied tracks "to help ? decide whether to buy the CD".

Perhaps record labels should take note of this, and instead of trying to squash download sites, take a leaf out of Apple's book and start up more legitimate services themselves.