Offering some insight to the recording industry as it struggles to boost sales online, a survey released on Wednesday found that Web surfers who download music from song-swap sites are more likely to buy music online, as well as offline at retailers.

The research put rap music as the No. 1 genre purchased by online fans, which may help record companies gain a better understanding of who their online customers are.

The survey was based on 36,000 Internet users and released by Web tracker Nielsen//NetRatings, a unit of NetRatings Inc .

It showed that nearly 31 million active Internet users aged 18 or older — representing 22 percent of the active Internet universe — downloaded music in the past 30 days, and 71 percent bought music in the past three months.
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