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Does File-Sharing Really Hurt the Music Biz? 435

Phonographic Memory writes "A new study has come out that purports to show a link between file-sharing and decreased CD purchases. Covering the period of 1995-2003, the study looked for a link between owning a computer and decreased CD purchases. The researcher found that 'some US music consumers could have decreased their CD purchases (prior to 2004) by about 13 percent due to Internet file sharing.' In its coverage of the study, Ars Technica notes that the scholarly consensus on the possibility of a link between file sharing and music purchases is missing: 'the dominant impression gained from reading these studies is that finding accurate correlations between file-sharing and loss of revenue for the music industry is tremendously difficult.'"
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Does File-Sharing Really Hurt the Music Biz?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:07PM (#16205789)
    Ok RIAA, I said what you told me to. Will you now drop the case?
  • Thats what I heard at least. And ~120 odd of these malls have closed down to become places of business... and guess what most type of the business is? Low paying wage jobs with people who know about computers...

    Lets do some math..

    low paid people + people with computer knowledge (at least enough to fire up limewire) = low CD sales.

    anyone care to check my math here? Or could it also be said that we could have all had about 300 more CD's than we currently have now if gas prices weren't what they are?

    • by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:26PM (#16206137)
      I've got a computer. I haven't purchased a CD in about 6 months, however, I know that Amazon will still deliver them to me for free, so the cost of driving to the mall has nothing to do with it.

      I just don't want their damned music. I don't want their damned music badly enough that I haven't downloaded any of it either.

      That CD I bought 6 months ago? It was made on a computer. In the home of the artist. I bought it from her at one of her appearances at a local coffeehouse. It's got a CC license. It doesn't even show up on the sales statistics.

      Ya think that might have something to do with the official sales numbers?

      ". . . finding accurate correlations between file-sharing and loss of revenue for the music industry is tremendously difficult.'"

      Yeah, I have the same problem counting the number of pixies living under my bed.

      • by Who235 ( 959706 ) <`secretagentx9' `at' `'> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:49PM (#16206557)
        I just don't want their damned music. I don't want their damned music badly enough that I haven't downloaded any of it either.

        There you have it. Their product is bad, overhyped, bubblegummy teenage nonsense.

        When I find good music I buy it, and in the last 15 years or so the good music is coming out on smaller, independent labels.

        That CD I bought 6 months ago? It was made on a computer. In the home of the artist. I bought it from her at one of her appearances at a local coffeehouse.


        I buy CDs at shows all the time. The artist gets the money, I get the music, a major label record company gets nothing - everyone wins.

    • there's also an aids problem in africa. i'll bet illegal file sharing is cuasing that too. and global warming.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:10PM (#16205831)
    1) I have never downloaded a song for which I don't own a CD already
    2) I have bought maybe 2 CDs in the last year, vs. 20 a year in the early 90's

    This is mainly due to the high level of suckage by today's "musicians". Has anyone done a study that includes that correlation? Also I've built my collection the point where I have almost everything I want already. How does that figure in?
    • This is mainly due to the high level of suckage by today's "musicians". Has anyone done a study that includes that correlation? Also I've built my collection the point where I have almost everything I want already. How does that figure in?
      iTunes reported on 12 Sep 06 [] that they have sold 1.5 billion songs through their onlines store! No wonder CD sales are down!
    • by Poppler ( 822173 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:26PM (#16206147) Journal
      This is mainly due to the high level of suckage by today's "musicians". Has anyone done a study that includes that correlation

      And how exactly to you propose to objectively measure the "level of suckage"?

      Seriously, what you say is not true. What sucks is the music that's played on the radio, not modern music. This is mostly a result of the deregulation of radio that occurred in the 90s, paving the way for a few giants to own just about everything.
      The effects were somewhat delayed by the "grunge" boom; every major label was so desperate to find "the next Nirvana" that they took chances with all sorts of interesting bands that wouldn't have otherwise gotten major label deals. They have since realized that they'll make more money sticking to the formula, so they push nothing but garbage on the radio and MTV nowadays.
      • by Mprx ( 82435 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:36PM (#16206303)
        I don't listen to radio, but one objective example of suckage is the decreased dynamic range of modern mastering techniques. Nearly all music from the last 10 years is so overcompressed as to be unlistenable (and even old music is not safe - "remastered" rerelease versions replace the old versions with much inferior versions).
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I have the opposite problems, sorta and sometimes. I'm old and my hearing sucks. In a quiet environment, at home, listening to my LPs, I love wide dynamics. That's what real music played in real space tends to have. In most places where I listen to music, though, this isn't the case. In the car or in my slightly noisy office, lower dynamic-range passages get lost in the background noise. I find myself turning my car stereo way up on some quiet things then way back down on loud passages.

          A theory: commo
      • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:52PM (#16206595)
        I have also hardly bought any CDs of late because I can't find anything I'm motivated to buy and for me suckage has increased. I don't download illegal stuff at all.

        Sure, suckage is very subjective. Another possible cause is a shift in demographics. For us people who used to buy CDs, but now don't because of perceived suckage, we have stopped buying. Period. We have not started downloading (well typically anyway). The higher volumes of new releases are now more biased away from people like me to those who like rap or whatever. Perhaps the rap-buying demographic has never been strong in CD purchases, so perhaps that explains a lot, perhaps not.

        Analogy alert: if you replace a French resturant into a MacD,then expect your patrons to change and expect your sales numbers to change too. The wine bar next door should also expect changes since your average MacD eater is probably less likely to fit the wine bar profile.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gtada ( 191158 )
        Hmmm... I wonder if it's possible to gather data on what people are downloading. If the rate at which people are downloading 5-15 year old stuff is higher, that could at least indicate that today's music is less appealing in general.

        It'd also be interesting to see how many of the songs downloaded are by unsigned bands that wouldn't be accounted for in total CD sales anyways.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vertinox ( 846076 )
        And how exactly to you propose to objectively measure the "level of suckage"?

        Does it involve booty dancing videos or angsty emo kids screaming?

        No, but seriously.

        The reason music sucks today is that all stations are owned by clear channel and MTV doesn't play music videos anymore.

        Secondly, most major stars aren't even really musicians in their own right, but rather manufactured acts.

        That said... I quote wiki: "In June 2003, Jon Wiederhorn of referred to Marilyn Manson as 'the only true artist today'.
    • Thanks to *cough* downloading *cough* my CD collection grew by about 150+ CDs in the last 4 years. There are plenty of underground, non mainstream bands that put out quality music. Of course, 99% of the CDs I bought are made by bands who play infront of about 500-1000 people max. You just have to look and you will find some awesome music, even today.

      If your music reference is MTV or radio, then yes, it's mostly garbage.
    • by micromuncher ( 171881 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:45PM (#16207419) Homepage
      I agree. My buying habits have changed. I still listen to a wide variety of radio stations; but my desire to buy what I hear is zero. So I go to extremes to buy stuff that doesn't suck. I noticed I starting buying more from Amazon 'cause HMV,A&B,BestBuy,etc/etc were all selling the same "promoted" crap. Now I see more indy record companies pushing their own and bypassing traditional distributors (for example, I heard Dervish on and could not find them except through their associated on-line store.)

      One thing that truly freaks me out is the blatent theft of riffs and complete lack of originality by many of the leading "Pop" artists. Hey... isn't that Madonna butchering ABBA? Rihanna pilfering SoftCell? Gwen and Fergie ripping off children's songs - or each other.
    • You've got "musicians" in quotes...what really needs to be in quotes is "artists". I have been wondering when any schmoe who records some music and releases a CD became an "artist".

      True artists want their works to be seen, heard, shared, understood. They want to evoke a reaction in people. Of course they want to make a living too, but love of money is not what motivates them.

      Lots of people in the recording business are not interested in "art". They want to make gobs of money. They want to be superstars. Tha
  • Nonsense! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by e2d2 ( 115622 )
    How can people downloading music for free hurt music sales? It doesn't make sense!

    But seriously, does this shock anyone? If I'm getting the milk for free how is the cow gonna get paid? Or some shit like.

    • Re:Nonsense! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Frymaster ( 171343 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:22PM (#16206065) Homepage Journal
      But seriously, does this shock anyone? If I'm getting the milk for free how is the cow gonna get paid?

      yeah! it's just like when the casette tape killed the recording industry and the video tape put all the movie theatres out of business and the radio wiped out record sales. we've know this connection for years! ever since the public library put all the publishers out of business.

      seriously. people buy cd's (and books and movies) as much for owning an artefact than for the actual content. people want to have personal libraries and large music collections and so they will buy books and movies. history proves it.

  • by merreborn ( 853723 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:10PM (#16205847) Journal
    But of course, increased online digital music sales couldn't possibly have anything to do with *that* could they?

    Lots of things have changed in the last 10 years. P2P fileswapping is one of them. iTunes is another.
    • I mean seriously, I remember the exact year I stopped buying the same quantity of CDs... It was 1994. Yes, my computer had something to do with it, but it wasn't file sharing. It was I found myself spending most of my disposable cash on computer upgrades and games for the next 2 years. Seriously. I still bought CDs, but my guess would be I had cut down by about 90 percent.

      Then about 1996, I moved in with my girlfriend, and the focus of my life completely changed. Again, still bought CDs, it's just music
    • ...the study looked for a link between owning a computer and decreased CD purchases."

      This is baseless, inane trash with no grip on reality. The "study" is 100% pure crap.

      What's a simpler answer that would *also* match the observations (assuming that ther's a significant correlation)? Let's see, maybe people with computers buy computer games, War Crack, Ever Crack and other things with their disposable income.

      They should bring back medieval style public humilation for people who mis-represent and distort t

  • The music sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nsanders ( 208050 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:11PM (#16205855) Homepage
    Said it before, say it again. It's not the Internet, it's the product. Music today sucks compared to years ago. I just have no desire to pay $18 for a CD when I could buy the DVD with full video for the same price.

    The same applies to movies. Torrents aren't killing your ticket sales.. Your crappy movies are killing ticket sales.

    "Honey, do these jeans make my butt look fat?"
    "No, your fat butt makes your butt look fat."

    See the concept?

    • Re:The music sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:16PM (#16205963) Journal
      Not to go against the Borg known as Slashdotters... but here you go..

      Music today is no better nor worse than yesterday. You remember the good stuff and forget the crap, the same way I remember the good 90s music and not the crap.. That is how things work. You remember the good and discard the crap.

      As you get older you learn about music and what's good and bad.. You learn yourself and your tastes, I'm sure you can understand that.. but when you're 15 you're still a young guy who will follow groups a bit more.. learn a bit more and such..

      Music didn't change my friend, YOU changed.
      • Re:The music sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

        by grumpyman ( 849537 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:41PM (#16206403)
        DITTO. Remember what our parents/adults said about the music we listened to back then.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Bull SR ( 245263 )
        Well, the way people are exposed to music has changed during the time period in question. Consolidation in the radio industry has led to terrible choice for the consumer. The perceived suckage isn't so much that good music isn't getting made, but it's harder for the non-aficionado to discover the signal in all that noise.

        So, now we have the Internet to discover the good stuff, along with satellite radio. The Internet user downloads what he discovers at time of discovery, so no need to purchase a CD. I t
      • Re:The music sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by div_2n ( 525075 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:53PM (#16206613)
        Music today is no better nor worse than yesterday.

        I think I'll be the one to decide that when it comes to spending my money since this is a highly subjective matter.

        I don't buy CDs nearly as much as I used to. Radio stations play the same music they've played for about 5 or 6 years now. I find myself turning the channel to talk radio more often than not because I'm tired of hearing the same music over and over and over again.

        Those are facts. We can argue the cause of the facts if you want.

        Not buying CDs

        1) I'll admit that music isn't as big in my life now as it was say in college. So perhaps age has something to do with it.

        2) I'm older and wiser and whenever I even think about buying a CD (which isn't often) I think of better ways to spend my money.

        3) Perhaps I'm falling out of touch with whatever is the fad of the day. (See #2)

        Same music over and over

        1) Perhaps there really aren't that many good new songs being released. (i.e. today's music really IS worse)

        2) Maybe whomever is in charge of the music at the stations in my area are lazy.

        3) What if (wait for it . . .) the music industry decision makers have lost touch with what's good and let great talent sit unnoticed?

        While I'm thinking about it (since #3 in the second group got me on this train of thought), I'll go ahead and say what I'll wager has crossed the mind of anyone who has more than three brain cells holding hands and singing "kum ba ya". File sharing kills off bands that suck. It just does. If you download and sample the other songs from a band besides the hit playing constantly on the radio and find out that they are a one hit wonder, are you going to fork out the full price of a CD for that one song? I wouldn't.

        Artists are (or should be) afraid of file sharing because it exposes their weakness at making a tight album. Music execs hate it because (among other things) it allows people to easily sample before they buy. I say easily because it seems to me that if someone takes the time to go to the music store, they would be more likely to buy something than if they didn't.

        In conclusion, I'll say that file sharing won't kill music or bankrupt talented artists. If the music industry is smart, it won't even hurt their bottom line that much. But I'll tell you what it will kill--the album as we know it.

        Don't get too upset about it. I suspect that the overall quality of the average song will actually improve since bands will quit messing around with songs that nobody likes.

        Just $0.02.
      • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:57PM (#16207599)
        Music today is no better nor worse than yesterday. You remember the good stuff and forget the crap, the same way I remember the good 90s music and not the crap.. That is how things work. You remember the good and discard the crap.

        Every generation has had its share of good and bad music and the manufactured pop idols, but one thing is different today than it was 5, 10, or 20 years ago.

        Clear Channel owns all the radios and MTV doesn't play music videos anymore.

        This means artists are chosen by the media cartels payola system rather than a voting system by the populace.

        As a kid I remember every year, there would a video that would play at midnight and then it would get popular and play at 10pm and then later it would be playing nonstop at primetime for an entire month.

        Now, a band is just manufactured and *BAM* they are on the prime time whether you like it or not.

        Mabye all those old bands were manufactured as well, but these days it isn't even remotley democratic.

        Do you remember the days when any local band had a chance of getting their demo played on the radio and then making it big?

        These days there is no such thing as a local radio station. They play the same lists on the East Coast as they do the West coast. Hell many of the shows are getting the same audio stream.

        So I wouldn't say the quality of music has gone down hill, but rather the industry itself and its promotions methods. RIAA and crew are no longer satisfied with taking chances with people possibly making it big. If they sign you then they force it down everyone's throats even if they aren't liked.

        Which is of course why we see more one hit wonders these days of people who real job was making jingles for commercials or have a pretty face.

        It isn't the internet or piracy nor iTunes killing the industry, but the industry itself.

        The only way to fix it would be to break up the RIAA monopoly and force Clear Channel to sell its stations.
    • Amen, it looks like the top 2 albums this week will be Justin Timberlake's solo production and Clay Aiken...'nuff said
      • Re:The music sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

        by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:10PM (#16206907)

        "Amen, it looks like the top 2 albums this week will be Justin Timberlake's solo production and Clay Aiken...'nuff said"

        Here some of the top tracks of the year:

        • 1999: "Believe" by Cher
        • 1996: That fucking Macarena song
        • 1991: "Everything I Do, I Do For You" by Bryan Adams (Messrs. Bush and McCain are currently disputing whether this song is an acceptable means of torture.)
        • 1986: "That's What Friends are For" by Dionne Warwick
        • 1982: "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John (#2 was "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.)
        • 1979: "My Sharona" by The Knack
        • 1978: "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb
        • 1973: "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Old Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando and Dawn
        • 1966: "The Ballad of the Green Berets" by Staff Sargeant Barry Sadler (for those of you who remember this song: I am very, very sorry if this is stuck in your head for the rest of the day.)

        I hope this helps clear things up, and that you're a little closer to understanding why people chuckle when younger people think that "today's music sucks" is some sort of unique epiphany.

    • Re:The music sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:20PM (#16206037)
      If the music sucks. Why do you feel the need to download it without its creators permission?
      • Re:The music sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:38PM (#16206349) Homepage
        We're not. They're just assuming we are when their sales suck. Sure, in some cases we download to sample it but wouldn't have bought the CD anyways (or decide we like it and actually DO buy the CD), but only those among us with the most bandwidth and the biggest hard drives download pure crap solely because it was available.
      • by RsG ( 809189 )
        Where did he say he downloaded it?

        I neither download, nor buy music. Nothing I hear on the radio these days is worth my bandwidth or money. Furthermore, I do not have any desire to see my money go toward paying industry lawyers to sue people.

        Now, if there are enough people like me, then sales will drop, right? How is that distinguishable from sales dropping due to piracy?

        Moreover, there are plenty of other /.ers who claim that it's the price relative to quality that's making piracy attractive (not saying
      • What makes you think everything that gets downloaded is new? The vast majority of my music is stuff from the 60s and 70s. And I'm 22, so it's not as if I'm a nostalgic baby-boomer or something.

    • Re:The music sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:33PM (#16206259)

      "Said it before, say it again. It's not the Internet, it's the product. Music today sucks compared to years ago."

      This is a constant. People approaching middle age in the 1950s claimed that modern music sucked compared to music of previous decades. As did people in the 1920s and 1870s.

      People who believe in the quality of music of past generations vs. today's music are often quite certain that they are correct in an objective sense, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Nonetheless, this phenomenon is so common that there is a word to describe it: nostalgia [].

      I'm aware that this provides a quandary for P2P fans: if "today's music sucks" is a constant over T, then it's not a significant contributor to declining music sales. Another sticky issue is that the top pirated tracks [] match up with the top sold tracks pretty closely. "Today's music sucks" is not driving P2P fans to download old stuff in lieu of new stuff. The demand for the new stuff is strong; P2P simply provides another channel.

    • Well, music compares to how many years ago? During the time when you were ~16-25? Everybody who's past that age have the same comment about music. They say whatever they listen to 10/15/20 years ago is much better. I'll guarantee 10/15/20 years later they'll tell their kids about the same thing. What did your parents told you 10/15/20 years ago about your music?

      Mind that not everybody listens to 'mainstream' stuff. Have you dig around independents lately? The problem for people pass that young age

  • by brunascle ( 994197 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:11PM (#16205857)
    i wrote an albeit sloppy paper on this a few years ago. i found that there were several spikes in cd sales. one was during the heyday of napster. after napster was shut down, cd sales started to slow down. they picked up again as iTunes was gaining in popularity.

    personally, i know for a fact that i wouldnt have a huge chunk of my (legally puchased) music collection had it not been for file sharing, simply because i would have never heard the bands before.
    • by Svet-Am ( 413146 )
      I feel the exact same way about Satellite Radio. Thanks to Sirius, I have gained exposure to artists that I never would've had the opportunity to hear before. Hence, I've made a lot more music purchases that are *explicitly targetted* at the kind of music I like.
  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:11PM (#16205861)
    During 2002 computer owners' CD sales decreased by $4.79 a year, and by $5.55 in 2003. Those without computers only decreased by $0.80 and $0.22, respectively.

    And even an inexpensive CD (been out a few years, on a discount site, etc) is about $7.99 today.

    That's less than 1 cheap CD a year. That's barely 1 brand new ($15.99) CD every 3 years.


    And the 80 cent decrease? That's 1 less CD purchased every 10 years.
    • by shark72 ( 702619 )

      I think your confusion lies in the fact that TFA omitted the word "average" in the sentence you quote. These are averages of consumer behavior, not typical consumers. It's fun with averages that allow the average family to have (say) 2.3 children, despite the fact that most people count their children in whole numbers.

      However, the write-up omits so much of the background that it's useless out of context. My music purchases per year have probably increased five-fold since the advent of CDs, yet my CD purch

      • I think your confusion lies in the fact that TFA omitted the word "average" in the sentence you quote. These are averages of consumer behavior, not typical consumers. It's fun with averages that allow the average family to have (say) 2.3 children, despite the fact that most people count their children in whole numbers.

        When you average it out (not the best approach in my opinion, but that's a different thread), the average loss is STILL less than 1 new CD per year.

        Think of it as a step function, until the de

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) *
        This is because I buy music a track at a time online, and I do not pirate.

        It's a good thing, too -- I hear the Coast Guard takes a dim view of piracy these days!

    • Exactly. This so called study is a lot of tosh. There's an implied $0.76 per year decrease, so by now the computer owners are spending $7.83 less than at the start of 2002. (2004 $6.31 2005 $7.07) Of course, being computer owners, they're probably spending more than $7.07 more per year with iTunes, so it's all moot. Filesharing isn't damaging CD sales, anyway. The RIAA is.
  • by LoadWB ( 592248 ) * on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:11PM (#16205867) Journal
    Right. We download a song from an album that we *think* we want, then we say "Man, this sucks. I'm glad I didn't buy this shit."

    End of story. So, yes, you could answer that music downloads hurt music sales, but that only identifies the symptom and ignores the actual problem.
  • File sharing is to music sales as VHS and DVDs are to theater ticket sales.. oh, wait, they've posted new records? Nevermind. Nothing to see here...
    • File sharing and RIAA law suits have no relationship to each other. the legal actiosn are self-feeding lawyer leech aka license to print money. It actually matters not at all if you have file shared. Once they typo your IP on a are out their perscribed 4-5 thousand and off they run to the next victim... Certainly you can get your own leech and fight it. Unless you are a zillionaire all you will get is two leeches for the price of 10. Guilty? Innocent? Does it matter? "Winners" loose a
  • Not really. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:13PM (#16205889) Journal
    I don't think it does purely for the story I'm about to tell.

    Three days ago I had no intrest in Pokemon Mysterious Dungeon, but a friend had the rom so I went "WTF, I'll give it a try".. I found out it played just like nethack, some minor changes, but in my head it became "Pokemon Nethack". I played it for a couple of hours and decided that this was a game I'd want to play on my DS rather than on the PC. So today I ordered the game and it should be here in a few days.

    Did I hurt the game industry by using a rom before I bought the full copy or buy a game I didn't have an intrest before I played it? Roms and P2P music has become the new demos, people will buy games they think are worth the money or they'll download games they didn't think were worth the money. You could even argument because of the rom I've now told Slashdot that they can get a Nethack like game on the DS now and may have even sold more GBA/DS consoles/games, but that maybe going too far.

    Quality will always sell.
    • That is an interesting point, but your story is not a perfect fit here. The fact is, by buying the actual DS version, you got additional functionality that you didn't have with just the ROM. You will have the ability to play the game on your handheld rather than just on your PC.

      However, if you download MP3s, you can burn a CD, upload them to your iPod or whatever, you can really do pretty much whatever you like with them.

      Can you honestly tell me that you would have still bought the game if you could have
  • Funny that. In the same period, I've increased my spend on music (and yet I buy less CDs). Of course, what this is really about is the centre trying to control both ends - the centre being the RIAA and its equivalents attempting to control demand and supply - as they do with physical media now. iTunes is great, but it's time that the music buying public and the music producers realised that they can use the web to deal directly with each other, cutting out the greedy middleman for the benefit of all. Or som
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:15PM (#16205913) Journal
    Aside from this being just a generally difficult type of study to execute, but what is their confidence level that a 13% drop is related to file-sharing?

    Though the methodology is complex, the results are straightforward: some US music consumers "could have decreased their CD purchases (prior to 2004) by about 13 percent due to Internet file sharing."
    Oh, there it is, the word 'could.' So on a level from one to a hundred, where does 'could' lie? I mean, if this was a rigorous statistical procedure -- no matter how complex, they should be able to give a percent confidence. You can measure deviation from your model and give it to me that way but I'm concerned that there might have been uncontrolled variables affecting the sale of CDs.

    And I believe that iTunes Music Service has been out since 2001, is that accounted for? It doesn't seem to be if you search the below linked document. I mean, I assume this study is targeting illegal downloads. iTunes is legal to my knowledge yet it would still decrease CD purchases.

    If you'd like to read the paper, it can be found here [] (PDF alert).

    While this study does take into acocunt some variables, I'm just afraid there are too many for it to be conclusive. I would recommend that the article ignore Family Size and find out how many of their users used a legal music download service.

    Also, is 2,000 samples per year enough to be accurate? Possibly, but then again, they are talking about an economy of 250 million consumers.
    • Could the decrease in CD buying the following two years be chalked up to increased sales of digital downloads, which started to become popular just at that time? The paper does not address the question.

      Bingo! I read TFA, and quite frankly, it isn't worth anything. They should be ashamed to have reported such unsubstantiated claims. If I'm reading this correctly, that drop of 13% could just as easily been caused by iTunes. In fact that conclusion would actually make more sense when you consider the millions

  • 'the dominant impression gained from reading these studies is that finding accurate correlations between file-sharing and loss of revenue for the music industry is tremendously difficult.'

    Proving that a correlation is causative instead of coincidental IS very difficult. You could also blame the drop in CD revenue on other factors during this same time frame. You could make the case that Global Warming is the cause of lower sales.
    • by griffjon ( 14945 )

      Everyone, repeat after me - CORRELATION is NOT CAUSATION.

      Some other contributing factors: The dramatic increase in the suckiness of corporate rock, a stagnant economy, a war, general bad blood between consumers and the RIAA, and, uh, I dunno, iTunes?. I'd like to see a more detailed study that also tracks smaller, independent labels and/or simply non-RIAA-aligned labels, not to mention tracking iTunes purchases.

      Personally, I think the decreasing number of pirates at sea is causing a parallel reduct
  • by queenb**ch ( 446380 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:20PM (#16206047) Homepage Journal
    Here's a few little goodies that the RIAA forgot to include with their pet study...

    1. Nicholls State University is in Thibodaux, Louisana which isn't exactly a hotbed of business research
    2. His study doesn't state where the funding to conduct the study was obtained from.
    3. The data came from the Consume Expenditure Survey, which is notoriously inaccurate
    4. RIAA has cut back on advertising and promotion for music across the board
    5. Their sales were actually better while Napster was in operation, without any additional expenditure on their part.

    Just my 2 cents,

  • Could it be that since 1995 other products (DVDs, video games, etc.) are competing for the disposable income that people previously spent on music?
  • I am a huge fan of music.

    I used to buy dozens of CD's a month.

    In 2001 I started using LEGAL on-line streaming music services (like Rhapsody).

    I have bought maybe a dozen CD's since then.

    While I have downloaded music from Napster (when it was presumed legal) as well as places like EMusic and Apple, I have never used an illegal service.

    I have no problem believing that computer ownership is linked to decreased CD sales. However, I don't accept that that link means illegal file-sharing.
  • I haven't seen a link for the paper, so they may have accounted for this issue. However, let's assume for a minute that households owning computers are likely to be slightly more affluent than households that don't own a computer. Were those households spending more money on music before Napster? And given that the economy had a downturn around, oh, 2002, would it be reasonable to assume that the total spending on music (a luxury item) across all households approached a more uniform amount? In other wor

  • The current issue of the Journal of Law & Economics [] has four articles dealing with similar issues and analyses. The authors of each of the articles are, as typical in academic literature, fairly cautious in drawing their conclusions and they are a mixed bag. The articles and their topics are limited in scope but they're peer reviewed and fairly interesting. Alejandro Zentner, the author of one of the article "Measuring the Effect of File-Sharing on Music Purchases," seems to have reached a similar co

  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:32PM (#16206243) Homepage

    Before we talk about filesharing, we should talk about the more basic issue: transmissable digital file formats vs. plastic media discs
    stored in poorly designed (easily breakable) jewel cases.

    Let's face it: CD's suck. And I'm not talking about the music. I'm talking about the medium.

    CD's have to be swapped out of the cd player. They hold too little music. They're easily damaged. And the jewel case is one of the worst atrocities
    of industrial design to be inflicted upon humanity in the last 20 years. (I'd say 30% of mine are broken).

    MP3's by comparison are instantly accessible, contain meta data, are sortable, and can be shuffled into infinite playlists. Not to mention, they're
    not breakable.

    When the recording industry pushes CD's, they are pushing a sub-par product on us.

    The music industry was slow to adopt a commercial alternative, and when they did they gave us DRM infected, vastly overpriced, low bitrate shite because they were
    still convinced that if given no other alternative we would continue to buy the sub par plastic discs.

    But there was an alternative: An infinitely better, cheaper, higher quality and more accessible alternative. The recording industry attmpted to
    control the market at the expense of the consumer. They gambled and they lost.

    When businesses offer subpar products they fail.

    The message to the recording industry is simple: Sell me non-DRM infected tracks at .12 each and I'm interested. That's the same amount of money you're getting from your CD's anyway. Push for more, and give me less? You lose.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by powermung ( 780700 )

      I agree wholeheartedly! Not only music, but software too! $280 for Windows XP? $4000 for AutoCAD? I spend more time listening to music than working on these software and I wouldn't even pay $5 for them. Selling tiny plastic for hundreds or even thousands of dollars is preposterous! Get rid of the activation crap and make them available for download at about $10 each. Otherwise, P2P remains as my only method of getting software for my business!

      Also, what is this GPL crap that comes with these free software?

  • The industrialisation of music has done nothing but harm music.

    If the music industry can be driven completely out of business I say bloody good job!

    Its all about making money for lawyers and suits.
  • There have been plenty of studies done to establish some link between downloading un-licensed music and decreased sales of legit releases.

    The methodology of those studies suck. None of them properly isolate for external variables, like: Just about everything else Johnny Download can spend money on for entertainment. And his motivations for shifts in spending habits.

    As an aside, most people pushing the idea refuse to acknowlede that Johnny Download's disposible income does not ramp up infinitely, and that Jo
  • This is nonsense - we have decreased our purchasing because we are older (the boomers are all over 40!) and the stuff coming our now is mostly junk. The bottom line is that I don't down load AND I don't buy music very often any more.
  • I've always believed that despite any increase in exposure brought by file sharing, it was going to be a problem for CD sales eventually. The record company exaggerated the harm, but the proponents exaggerated the benefits. But in the end it doesn't matter. Because it's not important to compare CD sales to file sharing; a decade earlier CD sales killed tape sales too and nobody really cared. The real problem is that the music biz didn't get into the new medium fast enough. They were too chicken to just
  • says it all...
  • From TFA: "And academic papers are unlikely to sway those who have either made up their minds on the issue or simply want to justify behavior they think think should be legal."

    Kudos to to Ars Technica for presummarizing the Slashdot discussion in TFA. We can all go home now.
  • Ok firstly, ist VERY difficult to draw any conclusions on this either way, there are too many variables. However, nobody ever mentions human nature when it comes to the old anecdote game.
    Slashsot has a lot of this, I've already seen many posts like this:

    "you know, I wasnt interested in song X, but I downloaded it for free, and after a few days it grew on me, and what the hell, I ordered the CD, so they got an extra sale"

    Thats fine, almost certainly true, and people are being honest about it, and thats great
    • Oh I'm sorry, you wanted an admission?

      I will happily download games. If there's nothing in it that interests me in netplay or playing it more then once, I -won't- buy it, it's not worth it. And I don't feel a bit bad about that, if you're going to make a linear "throwaway" game you deserve no better. At least not unless you're offering it for under five bucks.

      On the other hand, if it is worthwhile, I'll be on my way to the store. See how easy that is? Make decent stuff and people will buy it!

    • And then there's Anecdote C&D Anecdote C: You hear a single good song from an artist, you go to iTunes or whathaveyou and you buy THAT SINGLE SONG for a buck, rather than be forced to shell out $20 for a CD that has 1 good song and 16 pieces of crap. The music industry started getting rid of singles in the 1980's because there were too many 1-hit wonders. For a period of about 15-20 years there was very little way for one to purchase a single. In my opinion, this is what got people trading music onlin
  • Sure there might have been a drop in CD sales (highly questionable, IMHO, until I've seen the report and had a chance to look at how the ``researchers'' got their numbers) but it hasn't got all that much, if anything, to do with file sharing. It's your product, gentlemen. Folks aren't crazy about what your selling. Or how you're selling it. And, especially how you're going after people that you perceive are costing you lost sales. I don't care how many rights you have, suing little old ladies that don't ow

  • When I was younger I would buy a cd every couple weeks, in the past year I have purchased two. I have a huge cd collection but it stopped growing, there just isnt enough compelling music out there. In the past year I picked up a Santana cd and The Wreckers debut album. I havent gone on strike against the record labels, though I do not buy on impulse anymore, and wont just buy a disk for one or two songs. My tastes havent really changed, I just have lost interest. I have a few independant disks that I picked up at shows and have purchased a couple dozen tunes on itunes. My wife has picked up a few disks, but to me most of the bands she is into sound the same. Maybe im just old and cranky but it just seems like the stuff being pushed these days is just so formula that owning one of the bands songs is like owning them all.
  • Studies aren't usually commissioned to gather evidence and form a conclusion. They usually start with a conclusion, and gather statistics to support it.
  • by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl@e x c> on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @05:45PM (#16206501) Journal

    'some US music consumers could have decreased their CD purchases (prior to 2004) by about 13 percent due to Internet file sharing.'

    In related news, some Congressman might now be accepting 80% more bribes, 50% of people might be below average, and 100% of statistics prefaced with "some" and "could have" are sensational bullshit. If you've got real statistics, you don't say "some might have."

  • If a decline in purchase of RIAA music corresponds with computer access by the target market, could it be possible the consumers are buying something else...say prefering playing video games instead of listening to music.
  • Throwing this "Dead Horse" survey on the table as proof of lost sales is pure posturing. It sand bags progress by staking the false claim that damages are owed in-lieu of evidence that a better franchise could serve the needs of the Industry than the legal CD disc royalty extortion.

    Give up the sand bagging. The Flood broke through a long time ago. The RIAA were not there. Your Horse is Dead! Take your "Buggy Whip" franchise with you. The Horse and Buggy days are over.
  • It probably would not surprise you to learn that people in America who own personal transportation (i.e., automobiles) are the least likely to use public transportation.

    If you think that the reason they don't use public transportation is that they own a car, then you'd be wrong. Most of the people who own automobiles live in suburban and rural areas. The lack of public transportation in these areas means that they *can't* use public transportation and therefore *must* drive cars.

    This is a classic case of

  • 1. I buy music on CD.
    // begin link
    3. RIAA sends nasty letter to my ISP; sues one of my friends.
    4. I realize how evil RIAA is.
    // end link
    5. I buy many fewer CDs.

  • Rock vs Pop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by static0verdrive ( 776495 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @06:52PM (#16207537) Homepage Journal
    As a musician, let me explain something. In the rock or underground world, you get paid next to nothing for your CD sales. The record company knows bands are hit-or-miss, so keep all the dough to themselves, letting the band make their money from live shows *if they are widely accepted. This is in contrast to the pop industry, who knows that the pop groups are close to one-hit-wonders, and the "artist" gets paid for their CD and tour as a lump sum. The record company rakes in the profits from the CDs and shows. In most cases, the pop groups are built by the industry for this very rea$on, vs rock groups who create themselves.
  • by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @07:36PM (#16208101)
    File sharing DOES hurt the current model of the music biz... one that is based on the disposable mega-pop-star. It is hard to sell 10 million albums for a musician with one hit song when someone can just download the single they like so easily. For a pop-phenomena, it is very easy to hit the critical mass of people online to share something.

    On the other hand, there is a lot of music that is very hard to find on file sharing networks. Whole genres of music are pretty much unaccounted for on file sharing networks. If you can't listen to it on an FM radio station, good luck finding it. There might be a successful business model in selling fewer records of more artists, than selling more records of a handful of artists.

    Regardless, it is not the role of the government to be propping up outdated business models. I think it is pretty clear that the automobile was pretty disastrous to the blacksmithing and livery industries... but it created even more profitable industries in the long run. Think of the mess we would be in if we tried to save the blacksmithing and livery industries as large scale parts of our economy. True, file-sharing IS stealing and immoral, I don't deny that: but so is taking my tax money against my will, in order to fund a government agency to preemptively go after file sharing, or to legally harass potentially innocent people, or to legally restrict new technologies because they *MAY* potentially be used for file sharing. The immorality of file-sharing (extremely minor evil, if it is evil at all) is far outweighed by the immorality of the draconian methods required for enforcement.

    And specific to the music industry... WE WILL NEVER HAVE A SHORTAGE OF MUSIC!!! Music is one of those things people enjoy doing without payment... and one of those things that garners a lot of non-financial rewards (attention, respect, adoration). Look at all the garage bands, amateur musicians, people making demo CDs, people posting their music free on websites, and tell me that we would not have lots and lots of music, even if the entire industry collapsed. Making music is not like building airplanes, in that it takes vast amounts of capital and can be dangerous if done by people who don't know what they are doing.
  • Real World example.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2006 @10:32PM (#16209785)
    Before i graduated high school, I bought very little music. I was a full time student and a single record was a little more than my weekly allowance.

    Fast forward a few years. I'm in the Navy and just bought a killer sound system. I live in the housing with no expenses. I find music I like down the hall. I buy a few LP's. I get a car. I get an LP badly scratched so it skips. I buy a case of good Maxell tapes. Make a set of tapes for the car (Can't play LP's in the car) and another set to play to preserve the original LP quality. I get a few tapes tangled in a friends car tape player. No problem, recreated a replacement. Also traded a few tapes (before lawsuits start, the Statute of Limitations ended about 25 years ago) so yes I pirated music in my youth. It also happened to be my peak music buying years. For the music that I really liked, it was worth buying a pristine copy. I bought the Mobile Sound Fidelity Labs copy of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon at a premimum price. It has been played less than 15 times in the years I have owned it. Each time was to cut a tape from it to preserve the original.

    If I didn't have a tape deck and a good way to expand my library by sharing, I would probably have just stuck with radio and not have ever heard of Pink Floyd. File sharing is a marketing tool. Learn to embrace it.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.