Duh: File Sharers Buy 30% More Music Than Non-File Sharers
File sharers don’t typically have a very good reputation. They’re often blamed for the problems faced by the creative industries, with their ‘theft’ of music, movies and so on depriving the creators of these works of their just rewards for their efforts.
This quote from the RIAA sums up the industries position on file sharers.
“While downloading one song may not feel that serious of a crime, the accumulative impact of millions of songs downloaded illegally – and without any compensation to all the people who helped to create that song and bring it to fans – is devastating.”
So goes the rhetoric anyway. The problem is, that may not actually match up with the reality. A new study of file sharing in America and Germany has actually found that the reverse is true. It found that those that engage in file sharing actually buy 30% more music than those that don’t.
So rather than being the bain of the music industry, file sharers are in fact its best customers. What’s more, the research suggests that far more copying of music is done offline than is done via file sharing networks.
The research comes from the American Assembly, which is a non-partisan public policy forum that is affiliated with Columbia University, and is based on thousands of interviews with people in America and Germany.
It shows that file-sharers have both larger music collections in general, but also larger legal music collections than those that don’t file share.
“US P2P users have larger collections than non-P2P users (roughly 37% more). And predictably, most of the difference comes from higher levels of ‘downloading for free’ and ‘copying from friends/family’,” American Assembly’s Joe Karaganis writes. “But some of it also comes from significantly higher legal purchases of digital music than their non-P2P using peers–around 30% higher among US P2P users. Our data is quite clear on this point and lines up with numerous other studies: The biggest music pirates are also the biggest spenders on recorded music.”
So rather than demonizing the file sharing community, maybe it’s time for the industry to embrace them.