Former Google CIO & EMI Digital COO Guy Explains How File Sharing Is Good For Artists

from the oops dept

In April of 2008, EMI hired Doug Merrill away from his Google CIO position to lead the company's digital efforts. As we noted at the time, this actually seemed like an opportunity for EMI to really embrace what the technology allowed, though we feared whether he'd have any real power at EMI. Indeed, it wasn't too surprising to see him leave less than a year later, without a clear explanation at all. We'd heard some rumors of a bit of a "culture clash," and it appears that Merrill is finally confirming that in a recent speech he gave. What was the culture clash? Well, Merrill, like a typical Googler, decided to actually look at the data and found that it said file sharing could be good for artists and that users of Limewire were their best customers:
Merrill profiled the file sharing behaviour of people who used Limewire against the top iTunes sales and the biggest iTunes buyers were the same as the highest sharing “thieves” on Limewire.

“That's not theft, that's try-before-you-buy marketing and we weren’t even paying for it… so it makes sense to sue them,” he said wryly.
Not surprisingly, as we've noted over and over again, this sort of data and evidence (of which there are now at least half a dozen studies all saying the same thing) is simply not something that the major record labels are willing to hear. They just continue to deny the evidence. And then they wonder why they're flailing... Merrill apparently didn't talk about his departure from EMI, but it's not difficult to read between the lines.

Filed Under: customers, douglas merrill, music industry, sharing
Companies: emi, google

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2011 @ 1:15pm

    I understand what he is saying, but I think he still fails to address much of the issue:

    1. Without this freebie "try before you buy" system, would there be any change in sales (up or down)?

    2. Were the users buying what they tried, or buying other material that wasn't what they were downloading? (ie, are they not paying for some, and only paying for others).

    3. Could the same effect by granted by giving away samples, shorter versions, or limited / capped versions on the label / artist websites?

    4. Would the highest buyer have been the highest buyers anyway, in other words are the "music fans" who would buy anyway?

    It's sort of hard to draw conclusions until you have a fuller data set.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown for basic formatting. (HTML is not supported.)
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
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.