The More Music You Share, The More Music You Buy?

from the another-study dept

We've seen a bunch of studies like this in the past as well, but here's yet another report claiming that the more people share music, the more music they buy. Now, there are some caveats here. The report is done by a company that's trying to build a business around "legal music sharing," so it's a biased party. Also, its methodology is not particularly clear. So, even though it supports what plenty of other (more complete and open) studies have said, I'd at least take this one with a grain of salt.

Of course, there are some conflating factors in all of this. It wouldn't surprise me at all if some of the biggest file sharers are also some of the biggest music buyers, since they're often the biggest music fans. However, it would be wrong to then assume that because such people buy "more," it means that they buy more than they would have otherwise. That point has not been shown by studies. It may be true for some and probably is not true for many. However, what it does clearly suggest is that these file sharers are happy to pay for things when it makes sense. Once again, this reinforces the key point we've made before, that this is a business model challenge. These are underserved customers who are willing to buy, if the offer is reasonable.

Once you realize that, you quickly recognize the sheer pointlessness of the RIAA's strategy over the past decade plus. Rather than treating these people as underserved customers, who could be better served with better offerings, they instead treat them like criminals. That pushes them away, rather than making the more likely to buy anything. It's really amazing that the RIAA and the big record labels still haven't figured this simple point out.
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Filed Under: buying, music, sharing


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  1. icon
    drewmo (profile), 16 Jun 2011 @ 11:32am

    The methodology is clear. Apple estimates that only 3% of the tracks "stored in the average iTunes user's digital library was purchased from the Apple music store."

    WithMe takes this number, and notes "14% of the tracks in our users' libraries are digitally purchased". They note that since their users are sharers, they come to the conclusion "People Who Share Music Are 5x More Likely To Buy Digital Music". I suspect this hypothesis is true, but this "report" does absolutely nothing to show it.

    Problems with their methodology:
    1. iTunes reported the percentage of tracks in their library that were purchased in the *itunes store*, which WithMe then compares to a number of tracks simply *purchased digitally*. There are MANY ways to purchase music digitally outside of iTunes, so this comparison is meaningless.

    2. Even worse, WithMe is making the claim that *iTunes users are not music sharers*. Why? Because they don't use WithMe. So they aren't sharing music.

    Mike, I don't have to take a grain of salt with what they say, and neither do you! You can see clearly how they're backing up their claim, no salt necessary. This is nothing but an advertisement for their service.

    You're doing a disservice to the real evidence of the benefits of sharing by including this PR piece in the ranks, even with your disclaimer.

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