Music Pirates More Likely to Buy Songs Too – Study

Music lovers who download tunes illegally are much more likely to buy music than those who don’t use P2P networks like The Pirate Bay, according a new study out of Norway. But the recording industry says the report is off-key.

As reported by ars technica, the BI Norwegian School of Management studied the downloading habits of nearly 2,000 Web users who were 15 or older. It learned that music fans who download songs for free via P2P networks are also far more likely to pay for music. Even more surprising: Pirates purchase 10 times as much music as people who never do illegal downloads, the study says.

Not surprisingly, the music industry finds the study hard to believe. An EMI spokesman summed it up by pointing out that while music consumption is increasing, the recording industry’s revenues continue to dwindle. The reason? Illegal downloads, he says.

But that’s only part of the story. Online distribution of music isn’t geared toward album sales, which generate higher profits for the labels, but rather toward individual songs. In other words, industry revenues aren’t falling solely because pirates steal songs, but rather because music fans are buying tracks, not albums.

What’s interesting here is that both sides have a valid point. Many P2P regulars are serious music junkies, and it makes sense that they’d be more inclined to buy songs from the iTunes Store, Amazon MP3, and other legal download sites, particularly if they couldn’t find a particular track or album online for free. Casual fans may find it easier to download a song legally — a dollar isn’t that much, after all — or they may also have moral objections to piracy. And while there’s little doubt that piracy does hurt music sales, P2P sites aren’t the only cause of the recording industry’s sorry state.

Another study tidbit: Youngsters between the ages of 15 and 20 favor downloads to CDs, although most did buy at least one CD in the past six months. I’m guessing they probably won’t buy a lot more.

This story, "Music Pirates More Likely to Buy Songs Too – Study " was originally published by PCWorld.

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