Sales of digital music have grown dramatically in 2006, according to a new study, with sales of digital music downloads growing nearly 70 percent for the year.

Through the first 49 weeks of 2006, sales of individually downloaded digital tracks are up more than 67 percent over the same period in 2005, Nielsen SoundScan reported on Friday. The growth represents more than 525 million digital downloads, already 173 million more than 2005’s annual total.

It is clear that digitally downloaded music is continuing to enjoy tremendous and growing consumer acceptance, said Rob Sisco, President of Nielsen Music.

This year's results continue the upward trends seen in previous years, the research indicates. In 2006 to date, 11 albums have sold more than 100,000 units digitally compared to only 3 for the entire year in 2005 and none in 2004.

Digitally downloaded albums have increased more than 100 percent with 29.7 million so far in 2006 versus 14.5 million in the same time period in 2005.

Nielsen SoundScan tracks digital download sales from more than two dozen providers in the U.S. including every major digital music retailer, representing more than 95 percent of the digital music sales market, the firm stated.