Friday, November 02, 2007

Users of "free" music buy more music, too - study

There's long been a defense - moral, if not legal - of people sharing music on peer-to-peer networks on the basis that they're probably the sort of people who buy more music than average anyway. Sure, it might be soft-stealing, but it's still your best customers.

Now, a survey has confirmed that to be true - at least in Canada. The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the Purchase of Music: A Study for Industry Canada has studied 2,100 Canadians and concludes:

our analysis of the Canadian P2P file-sharing subpopulation suggests that there is a strong positive relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchasing. That is, among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file-sharing increases CD purchasing. We estimate that the effect of one additional P2P download per month is to increase music purchasing by 0.44 CDs per year

It's important to note that they don't find filesharing increases CD sales as an absolute, but filesharing appears to make filesharers more likely to buy more music.

In effect, it's something the labels should at least see as a positive good, if not actively encourage. Based on this survey, anyway. And anecdotal evidence. And common sense.


2 comments:

Twangfreak said...

While I agree with your stance against the ludicrous attitude of the record industry, I'm not sure this study demonstrates what it claims to prove. There is a correlation between membership of P2P networks and buying more music but the data doesn't show that one causes the other. Doesn't it seem more likely that this is what statisticians call 'confounding' - finding false causal relationships between two phenomena which are actually both caused by an unspoken third? In other words, it seems rather commonsensical that people who really love music are likely both to buy more music than average and to consider joining P2P networks more than the average person. If that's true, it doesn't follow that if they closed down all the P2P networks that CD sales would suffer.

It also doesn't mean, of course, that the record companies should pursue their Canute-like attempt to stop free downloading. The tide is flowing in one direction - towards the recorded music being a promotional tool to sell live music events.

simon h b said...

In other words, it seems rather commonsensical that people who really love music are likely both to buy more music than average and to consider joining P2P networks more than the average person. If that's true, it doesn't follow that if they closed down all the P2P networks that CD sales would suffer.

No, but that's not quite the point - the point is that if they close down p2p networks, sales wouldn't improve. The RIAA position is that p2p takes customers out of the market, what this report shows is that people who fileshare also buy lots of music. That might be despite, or because of, filesharing.

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