Music Industry

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
music, sales

limewire, nielsen

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.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2011 @ 7:37am

    When will Mike post a correction noting that he compared 2011 TEA music sales to past music sales based on an entirely different methodology?

    "Bucking a years-long trend of decline, U.S. music sales continued this year's upward swing, rising 1.6% through May 8, according to Billboard analysis of Nielsen SoundScan data. The gain is measured in track-equivalent albums (TEA), which combines the unit sales of albums and digital tracks into a single, comparable number." - Billboard

    As artistrights pointed out above, all of the positive percentages Mike cites were not calculated using TEA. Mike's entire comparison is based on a false analogy. Music sales are WAY up in 2011.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.