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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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RE: Just wondering...
By rhuarch on 11/3/2009 3:43:50 PM , Rating: 3
Judging from some of the comments on sample size, I'm guessing some of you have never had any formal training in statistics. 1006 is actually a pretty good sample size. You almost never see samples in the sizes you are looking for unless the study is in medical research, and even then 100,000+ is virtually unheard of. What is far more important is how the sample was chose. Researchers have to go to extreme measures to (attempt) to ensure there is no bias in their selection process. The requirements they adopt to ensure this usually means that getting a large sample would be prohibitively expensive.

If the sample is chosen properly 1006 is more than enough to reach the golden 95% confidence that a study requires to be taken seriously.


RE: Just wondering...
By bmheiar on 11/3/2009 4:05:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, Probability & Statistics was not my strong area while going to college to graduate with a BSEE degree. And I am still having trouble with it today (more of the Probability than the Statistics), on the FE/EIT Exam, which I have just taken my 3rd attempt at 2 weekends ago. I remember the 95% confident interval, sample mean, sample variance, standard deviation, & etc. So yes, u are right that if selected properly, the sample size would be enough.

I was just trying to point out that RIAA/MPAA with their draconian methods, will file lawsuit over the smallest infractions aka 12 songs being shared or one small study proving that they are wrong about filesharers/pirates.


RE: Just wondering...
By Rindis on 11/3/2009 5:47:06 PM , Rating: 2
The problem here is that while 1006 people may be enough to predict the number of people who are self-admitted file-sharers, 100 is not enough to say anything meaningful about the overall purchasing habits of them (remember, of the 1006 only 1 in 10 are part of the population covered by the assertions about relative spending habits).


RE: Just wondering...
By fatedtodie on 11/4/09, Rating: 0
"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot














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