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Perhaps the music industry should think twice before alienating some of its highest profile customers

While the independent music industry and small labels are largely thriving, the major label music industry is down on its luck.  Big artists like Jay-Z, Britney Spears, and Metallica just aren't selling as many albums as they used to.  The major labels blame this on pirates.  They have banded behind a thuggish organization by the name of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has tried to strong arm thousands of filesharers into out-of-court settlements typically totaling a couple thousand a piece.

A new study, though, brings the industry's tactics of attacking filesharers into question.  The new study, conducted as an online poll by the research organization Demos had 1008 total respondents between the ages of 16 and 50.

Approximately one in 10 of the people freely admitted to using sites like The Pirate Bay or filesharing utilities to download music illegally.  Ironically, though the pirates appeared to be the most enthused about music and the biggest legitimate buyers of music as well.  Of the pirates 8 out of 10 said they bought CDs, vinyl and as MP3s legally.

The pirates estimated their yearly purchases at £77 ($126) on average, versus a mere £44 for non-pirates ($72).  Thus it appears that the industry's current "collection" tactics may be risking alienating its own biggest customers that  in theory amount to over 16 percent of their total revenue.

The survey also offered other interesting insight into online music use.  Approximately half of those responding said they had accessed music via YouTube.  And almost 22 percent listened to internet radio.  Meanwhile, the study showcased Napster's fall from relevance.  The former P2P giant-turned legit business was only used by 4 percent of those responding, and 21 percent had never heard of it.  Spotify, a streamed peer-to-peer music service with DRM (you can't put files on your MP3 player), on the other hand showed traction, with 9 percent saying they had used it.

The survey indicated more would buy MP3's legally, but that they are currently priced to high.  Approximately 75 percent said they would buy tracks for 45 pence (approximately 73 cents), but that current rates (of a dollar or more) were too high.  This makes sense as many stores like iTunes charge rates on par with their physical equivalents, but without the perks of the physical purchases, such as album art and liner notes (some of this is now being offered -- but only with full album purchases).

The study was conducted from Britain, one of the nations with the most aggressive recording industry.  From allegedly stealing copyrighted music from independent artists to suing people for singing in public, Britain's Performing Rights Society (PRS) has made the RIAA looked downright friendly by comparison.

Britain is considering a law that would terminate pirates from the internet after three filesharing violations.  It would also levy steep fines against them.  The bill is opposed by the liberal and conservative parties, the majority of the public, law enforcement, the tech community, and internet service providers.  However, the ruling center-left Labour Party is firmly behind the music industry in supporting the measure.

Stated a spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, a government organization currently headed by Labour Party appointees, "The scale of unlawful file-sharing poses a real threat to the long-term sustainability of our creative industries.  While surveys asking people about unlawful behaviour should be treated with caution, it's encouraging that the findings signal that the three-pronged approach set out by the Government this week - a mix of education, enforcement and attractive new commercial deals - provides the best way forward for industry and consumers."


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Provide Legal File Sharing
By mmntech on 11/3/2009 8:33:51 AM , Rating: 5
The MPAA's biggest mistake was not jumping on this 10 years ago by providing a legal download delivery service when MP3 players first came out. Instead they fought it, and lost. A lot of people turned to file sharing because they wanted the music but had no way of buying it.

There is money that could be made from legal file sharing options. Charge a monthly fee to use the service. It's not going to go away so you might as well take advantage of it. Of course I think it's been well proven that the suits at RIAA aren't that smart.

I always find it ironic that the "progressive" entertainment industry is so resistant to any changes in the way they do business, even if it benefits them.




RE: Provide Legal File Sharing
By samspqr on 11/3/2009 9:21:19 AM , Rating: 5
I would gladly pay $15/month to have unlimited access to all the music in the world, and another $20/month for movies, tv series, etc.

all of that needs to be DRM-free content, but that would put me at $180/year for music and $240/year for movies and tv series, which means that, if I was the average guy from this survey, they could increase their revenue from me by a factor of 2.5x. As it happens, I hate the current model, so I use the free version of Spotify, so I guess they get much less than $20/year from me right now, and the potential revenue increase is more than 9x

WHY THE HELL DON'T THEY SEE THIS! I WANT UNLIMITED MUSIC AND TV AND MOVIES ALL DRM-FREE AND I'M WILLING TO PAY FOR THAT, STOP DRAGGING YOUR FEET AND COME TO THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU $‚ā¨&%ING @SSHOLES!!!


RE: Provide Legal File Sharing
By invidious on 11/3/2009 10:00:14 AM , Rating: 4
For a monthly fee it would absolutely have DRM on it, and the DRM would expire when you cut off service. Otherwise whats to stop you from just downloading everything you want in the first month and cancelling the service? Then signing back up in a year or two and getting everything that has come out sense then.

DRM has no place in directly purchased media which is why it has garnered such a terrible reputation. But subscription based content like you are saying is exactly the intended market for DRM.


RE: Provide Legal File Sharing
By JoshuaBuss on 11/3/2009 10:19:24 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed, which is why I think netflix is going to take over the world.. they're the only company doing it right.

Pay for unlimited access, everything streams. Eventually, the internet will catch up and you'll have access to a huge library of media from anywhere.. all for one subscription price.


RE: Provide Legal File Sharing
By MadAd on 11/3/2009 11:57:06 AM , Rating: 2
I used to do that with the movie channels, my trusty VCR and a pile of tapes...get it a month, tape eeeverything, cancel, watch them for a few months, rinse repeat. No DRM on old VCRs but movies still made a fortune and PPV is as big as it ever used to.


RE: Provide Legal File Sharing
By samspqr on 11/3/2009 5:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
I absolutely demand that whatever I pay for is DRM-free. I want to be able to listen to my music on my samsung phone, on my archos mp3 player, on a car with a pioneer stereo, and, especially, at work, where my computer is absolutely locked (won't allow me to install anything, won't allow any weird program to connect to the internet)

I'm too lazy to hop in and out like that. in fact, most people are: it's what all gyms in the world base their business model on

in any case, if they're so worried about that, they could offer DRM-free stuff only for yearly subscriptions. I wouldn't stay one full year without any new music, especially if there's an option to get it DRM-free for $15/month (without that option: yes, I haven't bought any music this century yet, and this Spotify thing is not really old, so that means at least 8 years without giving a damn dime to the recording industry -apart from the odd concert- see? there's lots of room for improvement, they just don't want to get my money)


RE: Provide Legal File Sharing
By Hare on 11/5/2009 12:52:47 PM , Rating: 2
Actually no. Nokia Comes With Music phones for example lets you download as much stuff as you want and when your free period is over, you can keep all the songs you downloaded. Look it up if you don't believe it.

It has DRM but it's used only to prevent device to device copies. It doesn't expire.


RE: Provide Legal File Sharing
By BruceLeet on 11/3/09, Rating: 0
RE: Provide Legal File Sharing
By Alexstarfire on 11/3/2009 4:00:59 PM , Rating: 1
Cause EVERYTHING isn't available on Hulu. Not only that, but Hulu started out free. Going from free to pay is always going to invoke that kind of a reaction.


"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis














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