Did LimeWire Shutdown Increase Music Sales? Part II
from the checking-in dept
Earlier this year, we noted how copyright maximalists were celebrating the fact that according to one (historically untrustworthy) analytics firm, file sharing had taken a massive drop following the shuttering of LimeWire. Of course, I pointed out at the time that those celebrating this were (yet again) focused on the wrong question. So often we hear copyright maximalists talk about how “piracy” must be stopped, but they never seem to want to discuss whether or not that will make people buy again. So, we looked at some of the data provided by some who did believe LimeWire’s shutdown had increased sales, but it came up a bit wanting. Still, I’m all about data, and if there really is data supporting the claims that LimeWire’s shutdown resulted in increased sales, it might make me reconsider my position on the wisdom of taking legal action against operations like LimeWire.
So, with the recent settlement in hand, it seemed like as good a time as any to look into the data. Of course, it also helped that Capitalist Lion Tamer sent over the latest stats from Nielsen, noting that music sales are up in 2011.
Boom! Case closed. LimeWire’s shutdown saved the music industry. Right? Well, actually, no. Doesn’t look like that at all. In fact, Nielsen doesn’t even mention LimeWire’s shutdown in its note about this, attributing much of the increase to the Beatles finally coming to iTunes. And, actually, if you look at the same Nielsen reports going all the way back to 2006, they show music sales going up each year. It’s just that more of it is single tracks, rather than full overpriced albums. It looks like the same is true of the latest data as well. If anything, the data suggests a noticeable slowdown in the growth rate. That is, sales are only up 1.6%, this year, which seems significantly down from the growth rate in past years. In 2006, the growth rate was 19%. In 2007 it was 14%. In 2008 it was 10%. In 2009 it was 2.1%.
Perhaps there’s some other data to be found, but it’s hard to see how there’s much of an argument that the shutdown of LimeWire, even if it really did cause file sharing to drop massively, then resulted in an increase in music sales. Kinda makes you wonder about those claims from the RIAA about just how much LimeWire had to do with their problems…. It also explains why the labels were happy to settle for $105 million after claiming trillions in damages from LimeWire. Even the industry seems to know that it’s not file sharing that’s the real issue.