File-sharers reportedly buy 30% more music than non-sharers, according to a new study which contradicts claims from the music industry that piracy is hurting the industry.
The study, from the American Assembly, a Columbia University affiliated public policy forum, found that US and German file-sharers spend around 30 per cent more on legitimate online music purchases than users who do not pirate music via the internet.
The results are part of the American Assembly’s ‘Copy Culture Survey’ that it intends to publish in the near future.
The study indicates that the ripping of CDs borrowed from friends and family accounts for almost as much music piracy as online file sharing.
This is something that has been rife since before online piracy music became a mainstream activity.
“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.”
These findings directly contradict the Recording Industry Association of America’s arguments that online music piracy costs the industry, and its artists, billions of dollars in lost revenue.
The study also found that around 79% of 18-29 year olds have music files, compared to only 14% of those over 64.
Accordingly, the overall average US collection falls pretty close to the young end of the distribution, at 1444 songs.
While peer-to-peer sharing of files is the most prevalent form of illegally acquiring music files, in the U.S., according to the survey, 29 percent of those under 30 listen to most of all of their music via streaming services.
However, only 11 percent of those have a paid subscription, which would indicate that music streaming services play a similar role to pirated music: try before you buy.
Although serveral studies have now indicated that music sharing can actually lead to more sales, the music industry has been trying to curb this behaviour with internet-based enforcement proposals, or cracking down on cyberlocker sites (such as Megaupload) and torrent sites (such as The Pirate Bay).
The RIAA state that: “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.”