New Study States The Obvious: Kids Download A Lot Of Music

from the this-is-not-going-away dept

Over the past few months, there's been a push among some to suggest that file sharing is really a marginalized behavior, only done by a small group of people -- and that with just a little education (and maybe a few big legal victories, such as the ones against Jammie Thomas and Joel Tenenbaum -- combined with new services like Spotify), perhaps it can be brought "under control." The "evidence" given for this has often been a case study in how to use statistics to delude yourself, often looking at the total percentage of people or internet users who engage in file sharing. But, the fact is that ignores the real issue: which is that kids today (tomorrow's consumers) are file sharing at a very high rate. A new study, sponsored by UK Music (the UK organization that's looking to get ISPs to put in place some sort of blanket licensing plan) has found that over 60% of kids in the UK admit to file sharing, with 83% of those admitting to doing it regularly, and those surveyed claiming to have downloaded an average of 8,100 tracks. Think about that for a second. 8,100 tracks.

While the defenders of the old system want to liken file sharing to a problem like shoplifting, at some point you have to realize it's something entirely different. This isn't a marginal behavior done by "bad kids." This is about as common as can be. Oddly, the BBC tried to spin this report to say that file sharing has dropped, but that "drop" was only 2% and it's within the margin of error of the survey -- meaning there's no actual evidence that it dropped. The study also contradicted that other study we wrote about recently (also in the UK) that claimed that kids were replacing downloading with streaming services. In this survey, 78% said they had no interest in a streaming service, and 89% saying they'd never pay for such a service.

Given the two conflicting studies (both sponsored by biased parties), you have to question the results of both. But, given the fact that kids are more likely to deny file sharing activity these days, rather than admit to it (knowing they could get in trouble for it), you have to wonder if this study even undercounts the actual activity.

Now, once again, let's make a clear point: I'm not saying this is right or legal. I don't think anyone should download music from an artist who does not authorize it. But the fact is that file sharing is not a "small thing" among kids today, and to think that there's some sort of magical method of getting it to go away is wishful thinking. Given that we're seeing more and more artists learn how to embrace file sharing to do better with their own business models, at some point it's time for those fighting against it to recognize -- from the copyright holders' perspective -- that it's better not to fight what consumers want, but to embrace it, combined with a smart business model, and stop worrying.
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Filed Under: downloads, kids, uk
Companies: uk music


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  1. icon
    DougN (profile), 11 Aug 2009 @ 10:07am

    Re:

    AC, I don't think your assumed conclusions necessarily follow the facts. I myself have 2000+ songs, all from CDs which I have legally purchased and still possess. And I would have much more, if not for the fact that I have a teenage daughter and an ex, both of whom put most of the music I would want to purchase (like a $100 boxed set of Beethoven) out of reach, and the fact that other music is still not available on CD or other digital format. But one reason I have all that music is that I have differing musical moods, where at times I cannot get enough of say Liz Phair, the B52s or some other artist, and at other times I am in more of a mood for Blackmore's Night or Gregorian chant.

    Now, with that said, I will agree that with some, it is like a kleptomaniac, or like the script kiddies and crackers who want to brag about how many systems they have access to, except the downloader thinks in terms of songs and movies. But with others, I think there is a certain amount of paradigm shift in the way folks think about music distribution (my wife would rather download individual songs from Tom Smith than to go out to purchase a CD with 10 songs, only one or two of which she wants).

    One must also remember in this whole deal that with groups like the MPAA, RIAA and other backsides, they really don't want you to be able to do things like make backup copies, rip to your PC, etc. They would rather be able to charge you for a new CD when your old one has worn out, and would rather sell you the digital file to play on your MP3 player, and then sell you another one to play on some other device.

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