RIAA Prefers Customers Who Buy A Little To Pirates Who Buy A Lot

from the less-is-more dept

Some weeks ago, we published a lengthy blog post called Where do Music Collections Come From? which discussed findings from our Copy Culture survey of 1000 Germans and 2300 Americans.

Some of the data demonstrated that P2P file sharers (who own digital music files) buy more music than their non-P2P using peers (who also own digital music files). Here's the chart again:
To me, this was a fairly innocuous finding, well in line with other studies. For my money, the more important findings were that personal sharing 'between friends' is about as prevalent and as significant in music acquisition as 'downloading for free', and that together they are outweighed by legal acquisition.

But the public spoke and the P2P finding went viral: the biggest pirates are the best customers. Headlines like this generated pushback from record industry groups RIAA and IFPI--mostly centered around the work of NPD, their survey firm in the US. The exchange, I think, is an interesting window onto the state of the empirical debate around file sharing.

At the risk of boring you, here’s the chronology:

Oct.15: We argue that P2P users are the biggest buyers of recorded music. The story jumps from TorrentFreak to Gizmodo to many many other sites.

Oct.16: Russ Crupnick, Senior VP at NPD tells NBC News' tech blog
We hear this argument all the time and it makes no sense.... Peer-to-peer users tend to be younger and more Internet-savvy, so the likelihood that would be buying digital files makes perfect sense. But you can't compare that to the entire population.
Oct. 17:We point out that we didn't compare P2P users to the general population, but to digital music file owners (50% of the US population; 42% in Germany). We acknowledge that our labeling was a little ambiguous on this point, so we fixed it. We noted that "if NPD has data that suggests otherwise, perhaps they could share it."

Oct. 17: IFPI weighs in, arguing that NPD says that most P2P users are moochers, even if a few skew the average by buying a lot:
P2P users spent US$42 per year on music on average, compared with US$76 among those who paid to download and US$126 among those that paid to subscribe to a music service. The overall impact of P2P use on music purchasing is negative, despite a small proportion of P2P users spending a lot on music.
Oct.18: We say, OK IFPI, that's not super clear. Those categories don't seem mutually exclusive. But we take your general point so let's break down the P2P users with digital music collections. Here's what our data says:
  • 16% bought no music files.
  • Another 9% said that 10% or less of their music file collections were purchased.
  • The median music file collection, among P2P users, is around 50% purchased.
  • And 15% said that their whole collection was purchased (suggesting that they used P2P for other purposes).
It’s a diverse group, but not moocher-dominated. We stand by our claim.

Oct.19:Then Russ Crupnick at NPD writes a piece that accuses us of publishing while drunk and also lacking a license to make proper sense of data (not joking about this). He repeats that you can't compare P2P users with the general public, and then notes that we're right about P2P users—but also wrong because it's dumb to be right about this.
P2P music downloaders do indeed buy more music than non-users. We’ve known that for about 10 years. It’s a dumb, illogical and irritating argument.
He then brings out his presumably non-drunk, licensed findings and, well, there are a couple things to say.
First, he gets his math wrong by including the subtotal in the grand total (h/t Michael Geist). Possibly this is advanced licensed math of some sort. I wouldn't know.

Second, when corrected, the numbers are pretty similar to ours! P2P users do buy more legal music than non-P2P using music buyers. And if you add in concert and merchandise, they spend quite a bit more on music.

As near as I can tell, Mr. Crupnick has no actual disagreement with us on the P2P findings. That’s just smoke and mirrors. Rather, he want to make two other claims:

First, that even though P2P users buy more than others music buyers, they buy less than they used to.
The average P2P user spent $90 per capita on music in 2004- now they spend $42 (CDs, downloads, subscriptions). This was during the same period when the number of files illegally downloaded per capita was rising.
Our spending numbers would look higher, but we agree with the basic story. Here’s how we put it.
[P2P users] are better digital consumers. But is also clear that this investment has fallen vis à vis large CD-based collections. The survey offers ample evidence of this shift in the way music aficionados relate to music–no longer organized around large CD collections or measured in terms of individually priced songs or albums, but rather defined by a mix of legal and illegal strategies for accessing everything now.
Then he gets to what he really wants to talk about:
Celebrating P2P users for their contribution belies the fact that the paid component of the music that they acquire, aka their acquisition mix, is 50% less than the average music consumer.
And so the moral order is restored. Or is it? On any normal reading of the post, this makes no sense: P2P users can't simultaneously spend more and 50% less than other music buyers. (Admittedly, I've had a few drinks and should probably leave this to the metaphysicians at NPD.)

But I'm willing to go the extra mile and assume that Mr. Crupnick is just being unclear, rather than contradictory. Maybe the "paid component" refers to the percentage of overall collections, not to the annual "spend" on music. This would have the virtue of making the statement true, in the self-evident sense that P2P users acquire more music than they buy. In our formulation above: the median music file collection, among P2P users, is around 50% purchased.

But it wouldn't make the statement relevant. At this stage of the game, knowing who supports the music ecosystem and what their expectations are matters a great deal. The fact that P2P users pirate, on the other hand, only matters if your main strategy for increasing sales is enforcement. Boiled down, Mr. Crupnick's point is that it's more important to stigmatize the pirate than understand the customer.

Nov. 12: The RIAA's Joshua Friedlander steps in to endorse that view:
In reality, the comparison is unfair – what it’s comparing is people who are interested in music with people who might not be interested at all. Of course people interested in music buy more. But as research firm the NPD Group (which has been studying these issues for a decade) points out here, this data is neither new, nor illustrative. In their words, “Celebrating P2P users for their contribution belies the fact that the paid component of the music that they acquire, aka their acquisition mix, is 50% less than the average music consumer. Yes, that’s half the average.”
For what it’s worth, I think piracy does play a role in declining purchases of recorded music, but I also think there are so many forms of disruption in the market that it’s impossible to isolate that impact. Here’s how we put it in a post called Die Substitution Studies, Die II: Well, Maybe Some Should Live.
We’ve argued that the media ecology has become so complicated that nobody has a handle on what substitutes for what. Does a pirated MP3 file substitute for a $1 purchased file, a $12 CD, some number of listens on YouTube or Spotify or radio? Does Spotify substitute for MP3 purchases? Or YouTube listens? Should we take stagnant discretionary income into account, and rising costs for other media services, like cable TV, Internet access, and data plans. Do national differences matter–including major differences in digital markets and services (In Germany, CD sales represent over 80% of the market; in the UK and US, under 50%).... Which of these factors get priority? How do we model their interaction?
Increasingly, we don't think it matters. For younger music fans, the primary connection to music no longer passes through carefully curated CD (or MP3 ) collections but through the universal jukebox approximated by overlapping services--iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, The Pirate Bay, and your friends' collections. The total spend is shaped not just by the availability of pirated music, but also by the close complementarity of other free and cheap music services and by the greater competition for discretionary income and attention from other media--games, DVDs, apps, data plans, concerts, and so on.

So what’s at stake in all the misdirection and cheap shots? In a generous mood, I'd say carelessness. In a less generous mood, I'd say it sounds like resentment that he has to debate this stuff at all. Ten years ago, he didn't have to. Send out the press release, watch it get picked it up, and call it a day. NPD and RIAA simply owned the discussion. Now they have to nitpick with academics.

Companies like NPD make money not just by surveying people about their habits, but also by ensuring that the data that they make public leads toward conclusions their clients like. This is the noxious side of an advocacy-driven research culture. And for many research firms, it produces occasional schizophrenic moments: the social scientist warring with the company man. Maybe that's what we're seeing here. The P2P results may have been obvious and "known" for years but I can find no trace that NPD thought them worth mention before this exchange flushed them into the open. NPD has tons of data and could make a huge contribution to public understanding of these issues, but that's not their job. Dissonant findings stay confidential.

Which is too bad, because in the end, Mr. Crupnick arrives at many of the same conclusions we do. From earlier this year:
"There are always going to be those who look for bootlegs and songs you can't find on sites like Spotify and Rdio, and there will always be people who see illegal downloading as a sort of game, but I think that number will just get smaller and smaller as other options become more convenient with all your devices," says Russ Crupnick, senior entertainment industry analyst for NPD.

The reason for this, as Crupnick and others note, isn't because of potential legislation that mirrors SOPA so much as the growing number of cheap, legal alternatives to illegal downloading combined with the decline of many well-known file-sharing sites.
So what's he defending? Not different data or even significantly different findings, but just his client's failed monopoly on interpretation. But that drunk horse has left the barn.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 11:32am

    They really need to stop looking at it like a zero sum game.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 11:41am

    What about legal customers who buy a lot?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 11:47am

    What percentage of the P"P downloads were legal, or is it assumed that all downloads are infringing?

     

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    cosmicrat, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 11:49am

    A history of failure

    The ***AAs and their henchmen desire a world that is both economically (except for themselves) and culturally barren. Thank god they fail on both counts. Too bad they still cause so much damage.

     

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    TasMot (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 11:51am

    And Throw in another Very Real Issue

    I don't know about the rest of the buying public, but my real disposoable income has come down so far that after gas for the car, home energy price increases, and a decrease in pay, any media purchases become a much larger piece of the little disposable income pie.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:01pm

      Re: And Throw in another Very Real Issue

      You're absolutely right. I suspect this is the primary reason for increasingly frantic behavior on the part of obsolete middlemen. Look at the drop in dues to the RIAA. The pie is not getting bigger right now, and they can't seem to understand why consumers would want to purchase basic necessities with their limited incomes, yet still not exist in a barren, cultureless wasteland. All of these frantic gestures, from legislation to licensing schemes to criminal lawsuits, are nothing more than a FUD attempt to squeeze blood from the stones that many consumers' wallets have become.

      The focus on P2P itself is ridiculous anyway. The case of North Korean students shows that even in a complete absence of safe P2P access, everyone can access music they don't pay for. The assumption that everyone who doesn't P2P is paying for all their music is ludicrous and not supported by the chart above, and it's embarrassing to watch these kind of assumptions (and bad math) built into a paid company's work. I want to send them all back to Stats 101.

       

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      Loki, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 3:42pm

      Re: And Throw in another Very Real Issue

      Agreed. My income comes out about the same as it was 20 years ago. However, back then my monthly expenses were about one paycheck a month, today it is about 2.5 paychecks a month. That leaves me a whole 1.5 paychecks less to spend on "luxuries" like movies or music or books. I honestly believe that if the oil companies didn't have much much larger pockets than they do, the entertainment industry would sue them too, for making gas so expensive and cutting into their profits margins.

      Which also bring us to one of their silly claims:

      The average P2P user spent $90 per capita on music in 2004- now they spend $42 (CDs, downloads, subscriptions). This was during the same period when the number of files illegally downloaded per capita was rising.

      This is meaningless without knowing how non-p2p users spending habits have also changed (or not changed) since 2004. As someone who has never used p2p, I can attest my buying habits have also decreased by a wide margin in the past. Which also support a refutation of another one of them claims:

      Maybe the "paid component" refers to the percentage of overall collections, not to the annual "spend" on music.

      This seems valid. I can't find a more reasonable interpretation of their statement than "sure they spend 50% more, but if they didn't pirates they'd spend 300% percent more". All the while ignoring the fact that perhaps they don't have that much more to spend. Or the well established fact, especially in other countries, that they make it so inconvenient (if not outright impossible) in many cases, that piracy is really the only option to acquire some material.

       

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      Tim Griffiths (profile), Nov 16th, 2012 @ 5:50am

      Re: And Throw in another Very Real Issue

      This is the heart of what I find remarkable about this whole mess. The entertainment industry as a whole has kept growing through a horrid economic period, it's a classic case of while each person maybe forced to consume less the market (mostly thank to the internet) has actually grown.

      Given the growing market but the tough times the money is going to flow to those parts of the industry that offer the best value for money and to forms of granular consumption that allow people to better pick and choose if when and where they want to spend their money. I feel the way that the mobile market has taken to free to play games with in app purchase is in part due to this trend.

      Of course this means some people turn to piracy but what does that really mean? When people are turning to piracy to consume more than they can afford there is a point at which what they pirate becomes a null value. If I have a monthly budget for media but I turn to piracy for all my media instead then no matter how much media I pirate over a period the only thing the industry can thought of have lost (if you stretch it) is how ever many months budget make up that period. There is also no way of telling what that money may have been spent on, when you get everything for free you are not so worried about consuming things of low perceived value to you.

      Truth is that for most people I know at the moment it's a mix of these things, people still spend money but they also pirate and while that pirating does no doubt cause harm I don't think it's nearly as great as it may seem in isolation.

      The parts of the industry that are complaining about this stuff are the parts of the industry that are invested in a type of market that no logger exits both in cultural, economic and technological terms.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 11:57am

    He [...] notes that we're right about P2P users—but also wrong because it's dumb to be right about this.
    P2P music downloaders do indeed buy more music than non-users. We’ve known that for about 10 years. It’s a dumb, illogical and irritating argument.


    To be fair, he doesn't say you're wrong, he says that your argument is dumb, illogical and irritating... I presume because it keeps proving that he's wrong and he has no way to respond.

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:03pm

      Re:

      That's pretty much what I got from his comment. His own data is contradicting what he's trying to push, and it's annoying him.

       

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        Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:15pm

        Re: Re:

        Please, let the poor propagandaist--err, researcher live in his carefully constructed delusion. Don't shatter it by forcing him to acknowledge the annoying evidence.

         

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      crade (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:18pm

      Re:

      Slight typo.. What he should have said is:
      It's a dumb, illogical and irritating fact

       

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      JEDIDIAH, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:27pm

      Fixating on the wrong details...

      They are clearly fixating on their artist megalomania to the exclusion of all else.

      You can have someone who is a half-moocher and still be a better customer. They can end up spending more. The industry refuses to consider that possibility. They neglect the sale they can make in favor of the idea of imposing strict draconian control over "their property".

      They focus on the money they think they didn't make in favor of the money they did make.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:32pm

        Re: Fixating on the wrong details...

        Of course they don't want to admit that the down loaders buy more music as that would invalidate their attack on the Internet. If they let alternative distribution models become common then their business is destroyed by legal competition. Their draconian punishments for 'piracy, are intended to terrorize people and scare then off all use of the Internet to obtain their music; which prevents alternative businesses from gaining traction.

         

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      Richard (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:43pm

      Re:

      P2P music downloaders do indeed buy more music than non-users. We’ve known that for about 10 years. It’s a dumb, illogical and irritating argument.

      Don't you just hate it when the facts contradict your favourite theory....

       

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      Loki, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 3:47pm

      Re:

      He also shows his ignorance with his statement. He may argue they are dumb and irritating, because those are merely subjective terms. the claim that the arguments are illogical are demonstratively false. The only arguments that are illogical are the ones coming from the RIAA, because those are the only ones that make leaps of logic that don't make sense to rational minds.

       

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      techflaws (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 11:02pm

      Re:

      - Hey NPD, your arguments have been wrong all along.
      - Duh, that's obvious, move along.

       

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    Noel, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:05pm

    Again this argument. Ask Crystal Castles do they mind I downloaded their album to hear what they sounded like, found out, went to concert (taking four friend) and buying merch?

    Or fourtet or burial or dj shadow or blah blah.

    If I download your album and consequently don't give you a dime, it's because your album was shite. Not because I'm a moocher.

     

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    crade (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:11pm

    So, RIAA acknowledges that, generally speaking, pirates are the only ones interested in music...

    So much so that he is willing to substitute "people interested in music" straight for "p2p users" in his statement..

    And they still think they should get rid of them?

    If people buy less music now, do you think maybe it's because
    a) riaa music is so controlled by riaa now that it sucks hard now
    b) there are more options available to people now
    c) Everyone hates riaa for being evil now
    d) all of the above
    e) "The people interested in music"'s should be thrown in jail

     

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:17pm

      Re:

      I think the main reasons for falling music sales are, 1, falling disposable incomes. We are in the midst of a serious global debt crisis that has caused a massive economic depression. It is unrealistic to expect people with squeezed incomes to spend so much on music/movies etc.

      The other reason is that the Internet has opened so many doors as far as Independent music is concerned. People have access to so much more music than ever before so sales are distributed among dozens of genres and sub genres both independent and mainstream. There is more music out there than one can reasonably expect the average person to contribute towards.

      Of course, the fact that so much of what comes from the major labels sounds the same - generic, radio friendly pap.

       

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        crade (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:24pm

        Re: Re:

        The falling disposable incomes would certainly be a factor recently, but I'm sure people have been buying less music for longer than we've been struggling economically.

        Entertainment options have exploded, though, besides independent music being more available, we have more video games, movies, tv channels, etc for them to compete with, and the true musicians mostly refuse to deal with the RIAA if they possibly can, meaning from the RIAA's standpoint they don't count as music sales anymore.

        Whatever the reason though, it's hard to imagine it's because we have too many "people interested in music" who haven't been crushed yet.

         

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          Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:50pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "but I'm sure people have been buying less music for longer than we've been struggling economically."

          That's where the 2nd reason comes in.

           

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        John Fenderson (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 2:47pm

        Re: Re:

        The other reason is that the Internet has opened so many doors as far as Independent music is concerned.


        This.

        I buy more music now than ever before, and almost all of it from small independent artists. That's not to make a political statement, but rather because that's where the best music is coming from.

        I don't buy RIAA label music because I don't want to fund efforts that I see as being disastrous for society at large, but even if I didn't have that objection, I would still buy very little of it because that's not where the really good stuff is.

         

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      anon, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 5:47pm

      Re:

      Once the studios realise that this information has been available for the last 10 years and has been ignored or even hidden from them, and that RIAA activity has probably pushed the best paying customers away I suspect things could slowly start changing, I cannot wait to see how much the RIAA loses in funding next year. I cannot wait to see if studios realise how badly they have been misled and how supporting the RIAA and other collection societies has actually been killing there customer base.
      All along the RIAA has been interested in one thing and one thing only, and that is protecting there status as the middleman, with scary stories of how artists will just stop making music the same has been said for the movie and book industry for years. Although I must say the internet is a threat it is not a threat that they cannot live with, If anything they can learn and possibly make more money than they ever have.They should be working to supply the pirates with alternatives, and no not paying $2 a movie rental with drm, but maybe paying $2 for a movie they would never have ever thought of buying or paying for.

      Yes people have been going through a tough time financially and one of the only industries not affected or affected in an almost insignificant way is the entertainment industry with more movies available every year than the year before.

       

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    NAProtector, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:16pm

    View

    If you perceive the world with open eyes, you will see everything. If you perceive the world with $dollar signs$ over your eyes, everyone alive, dead, and yet to born have been stealing from you forever.

    Techdirt: We see the glass half full with promise and potential of felling back up if you consider maybe trying a new approach.

    RIAA/MPAA & Others: B.S. IT'S HALF EMPTY AND GETTING MORE EMPTY BECAUSE EVERY TIME WE LOOK AT THE CUP, ITS BIGGER.

    Techdirt: But the cup is still half full.

    RIAA/MPAA & Others: YOU'RE NOT A LICENSED STATISTIC/POLL READER. (When did reading statistics &/or polls require a license & what is the name of this license?)

     

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      out_of_the_blue, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:27pm

      Re: View: Cup always look half full to those who put nothing into it.

      It's like magic, ain't it? Someone labors to make music, produce it, studio time, promotion, and then you pirates come along, see the tip jar is half full, so dump it into your own pockets! Then when the musician and chain of working people complain, you sneer at them!

      Geez, you pirates really need to create something of your own and try to get income from it. The glass BEGINS EMPTY, fool! Takes WORK to fill it!

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

        Re: Re: View: Cup always look half full to those who put nothing into it.

        Cocaine is a helluva drug.

         

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        Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

        Re: Re: View: Cup always look half full to those who put nothing into it.

        I think we all know whose glass is empty.

         

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        Gwiz (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:33pm

        Re: Re: View: Cup always look half full to those who put nothing into it.

        ...and then you pirates come along, see the tip jar is half full, so dump it into your own pockets!

        Kind of funny you bring up a tip jar, Blue. At one time in my youth I spent a few years doing restaurant work and do you know who ended up with the tips? The servers, not the creators. The chef, line cooks, prep cooks and all the rest of the kitchen staff worked for straight wages from the house. The wait staff, bartenders and bus people worked for tips.

        Now don't get me wrong here, I believe that the artists should get monetary compensation for their work, but I also believe that the entity serving up the music to me in the ways and formats that I desire should also be paid for adding that value.

         

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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:21pm

    Okay, so you're a falling-down drunk and CAN'T parse this:

    "Celebrating P2P users for their contribution belies the fact that the paid component of the music that they acquire, aka their acquisition mix, is 50% less than the average music consumer."

    Example with numbers: Pirate HAS $200 "worth" of music but only paid out $100 total; AMC has only $100 "worth", but has paid out $75. As percentage of HAS to PAID, though Pirate paid more total, he's cheated on the deal and gotten more in proportion than paid for. Got it?

    But K puts on his drunken sneer: "And so the moral order is restored. Or is it? On any normal reading of the post, this makes no sense: P2P users can't simultaneously spend more and 50% less than other music buyers. (Admittedly, I've had a few drinks and should probably leave this to the metaphysicians at NPD.)" -- I'm always amazed at people who brag about inebriation as if something to be proud of, and think that it enhances their credibility to egregiously state they're mentally impaired! That's how out of touch with decent society you pirates are.

     

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      The Infamous Joe (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:23pm

      Re: Okay, so you're a falling-down drunk and CAN'T parse this:

      WOOOOOOOSH.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:26pm

      Re: Okay, so you're a falling-down drunk and CAN'T parse this:

      I'm always amazed at people who brag about inebriation as if something to be proud of, and think that it enhances their credibility to egregiously state they're mentally impaired! That's how out of touch with decent society you pirates are.

      the joke

      your head

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:30pm

      Re: Okay, so you're a falling-down drunk and CAN'T parse this:

      Finally, I think I understand you blue! It's brilliant really, your use of facetiousness.

      You're so misunderstood.

       

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      JEDIDIAH, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

      Re: Okay, so you're a falling-down drunk and CAN'T parse this:

      That rant is fine if you are a Puritan, or a Busy Body, or the Pope. The problem is that this isn't religion. It's business. Business is about making money. It's not about fixating about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

      Morally, artists don't have any right to exclude or persecute anyone.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:59pm

      Re: Okay, so you're a falling-down drunk and CAN'T parse this:

      Example with numbers: Pirate HAS $200 "worth" of music but only paid out $100 total; AMC has only $100 "worth", but has paid out $75. As percentage of HAS to PAID, though Pirate paid more total, he's cheated on the deal and gotten more in proportion than paid for. Got it?

      So it's better to "lose" 25 dollars, to make sure that someone else doesn't get 100 dollars of stuff free. Never mind the fact that the industry actually made more money off the guy who gives them 100 dollars. Never mind the fact that there is no real moral quandary here other than "boo-hoo-hoo they got that free." Toil in obscurity and be poor, share in the lime light and not. My false dilemma for the day!

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re: Okay, so you're a falling-down drunk and CAN'T parse this:

        More like loose $100 if they piss the P2P guy off enough he boycotts them!

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

        Re: Re: Okay, so you're a falling-down drunk and CAN'T parse this:

        Not to mention the radio-deals with payment for commercial value of played songs going one way and payment for performance of rightholders "property". Somewhat the situation could sound similar if the buyer actually does buy more music legally after using PtoP. The "buying more music than they would otherwise" is what the music industry people claim they do not since they are not part of the same "grouping" as the non-PtoPers - Something they appear to have absolutely no proof of since they revert to ad hominem and ridiculous licensing claims. Ridiculous licensing claims seem to be these peoples specialty so I cannot but laugh at their own stereotypical behaviour.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 2:43pm

      Re: Okay, so you're a falling-down drunk and CAN'T parse this:

      "I'm always amazed at people who brag about inebriation as if something to be proud of, and think that it enhances their credibility to egregiously state they're mentally impaired! That's how out of touch with decent society you pirates are."

      Wait, you're not drunk when you make these posts?

      Damn lost the bet

       

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      Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 3:21pm

      Re: Okay, so you're a falling-down drunk and CAN'T parse this:

      Obviously then their best business model is to NOT PROVIDE MUSIC. Because if they don't provide music, unauthorized downloads and other unauthorized copies will be zero. Since reducing so-called piracy is more important than sales, then obviously the answer is not to provide access to anything that can be pirated.

      Yours is the "somebody might get away with something" argument. It's entirely irrational, based on an emotional response, and completely ignores the reality that a business should be looking for ways to maximize profits rather than ways to make the business owners feel like the world is treating them fairly. If unauthorized downloads increase sales, then demonizing and litigating against unauthorized downloads, and suing and alienating your customers, makes as much sense as... well, you.

       

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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:22pm

    Brain... hurts...

    So, his argument appears to be that p2p users got about half their collection for free... which completely misses the point any businessman should be focusing on: The paid 50% is bigger than the paid 80% (or whatever) of non-p2p users.

    They should look at it this way (using made up numbers), p2p users have given them $100, and non-p2p users have given them $50. Period. It doesn't matter how many digital files that a p2p user has downloaded, because those cost nothing to create.

    The bottom line is that p2p $ > non-p2p $, and that's all any businessman needs to know to make the right decision.

     

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      crade (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:09pm

      Re: Brain... hurts...

      What they seem to think is that P2P users currently give them 100$ on average, but they *should* be giving them 200$, so each P2P user is costing them 100$ on average... Therefore they are losing millions to P2P users.. hehe

       

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    ethicalfan ethicalfan, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:37pm

    Interesting Study - Invalid data points

    Data accumulated from people who are breaking the law has little value in court, why are we giving this data any creedence at all. The facts are that ALL industries affected by filesharing are in some form of decline since p2 arrived - music, movies, console and pc games, packaged software, cable subscriptions and book publishing while brodband providers and ad networks grow 10% a year on the backs of "free content" and pay no royalties.

     

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      crade (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:47pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      We are giving the data credence because we are talking about science here, not court and looking for the truth, not excuses why we should ignore the data.

       

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      crade (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:58pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      Now if you think there is reason to believe the data were actually incorrect, maybe there is reason to believe those people may be inclined to lie or something, thats a different story.. I'm with you there, I have about 0% faith that any survey is a decent representation of reality. :)

       

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      The Infamous Joe (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      Correct, and this happens time and time again when new technology obsoletes a form of technology. This is often explain using the demand for buggy whips after the car became popular, though I personally prefer the ice man analogy.

      Once people actually paid people to deliver ice to their houses, but when household refrigeration became commonplace, the need for ice men melted (ha!) away. Pointing to industries that sold non-scarce digital goods to people and complaining that they are in decline is just like pointing to the failing ice men business. Your options become "sucks to be them" or "hold back technology". Any sane, non-biased person goes with the former-- only people directly affected dare suggest that forward technological progress should be held up so they don't have to change jobs, because ignoring the impossibility of that goal, it's incredibly self-centered.

       

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      Lowestofthekeys (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:16pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      "The facts are that ALL industries affected by filesharing, economy, bad quality products are in some form of decline..."

      FTFY

       

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      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:24pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      why are we giving this data any creedence at all

      You mean the data agreed on by both "sides" in this argument?

      The same data was discovered both by the academics and the paid RIAA researchers.

      One side is saying "Look, the pirates are your biggest customers!" and the other says "We've known for ten years that's the right data, BUT FLARGHTHA BLARGHTHA PIRACY!"

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:34pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      why are we giving this data any creedence at all.


      Because this isn't a court hearing, it's real-world data in which we're making real-world conclusions from. According to these conclusions and this data, those 'criminals' are giving more to the industry than even the average person.

      Nice jump to the "breaking the law" card as well. You must be one of those people who think downloading a song is just as bad as breaking into a store and taking an album off the shelf.

       

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      The eejit (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 2:05pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      ...and? Technology has disrupted the business model. This has gone on since the times of Ebrahem and Isaac. Ethics diesn't even come into it, unless you virulently despise people infringing your works, but it's "an honest mistake" when you infringe on others work.

      And by the way, the likelihood that you're infringing approaches 100%.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 2:16pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      Interesting comment - invalid facts.

       

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      Gwiz (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 2:19pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      ...while brodband providers and ad networks grow 10% a year on the backs of "free content" and pay no royalties.

      Do you have a citation for that? Otherwise I am calling bullshit.

      I would be hard pressed to believe even 5% of internet traffic is music based. And we already know that Neflix (perfectly legal) has surpassed p2p in total internet traffic.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

        Re: Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

        Ignore ethicalfan. He's done the same over on ArsTechnica. And by "done the same" I mean written rather lengthy post devoid of any facts or citations, and failed to respond to post that directly call him out, present facts that DISPROVE his stated "facts", and so on and so forth.

        Basically, he's a troll who puts in random appearances. Spouts fabricated and already debunked information at length. Then disappears again for a nice little while.

        I suppose he also ignores that a major source of growth are streaming options (like Netflix, Pandora and Spotify). All of which contribute to over 50% of all internet broadband traffic in the United States. All of which most assuredly go out of their way to pay royalties.

        He's got no good talking points, so he falls back on the worst ones and hopes no one calls "bullshit" on them.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 3:26pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      All industries are affected? That's funny. The music and movies industry gloated how their industries were recession-proof. Same for games.

      You're an idiot, and anything but ethical.

       

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      anon, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 6:07pm

      Re: Interesting Study - Invalid data points

      Before i go and have a drink let me first state a few facts for you first.

      1. This is about polls not court cases, this is about looking at who there best customers are and treating them in away that they will remain good customers.

      2.If you look at Movies,the top grossing movies of all time were this year and the boxoffice takings have been growing steadily every year with a few blips when the quality of movies that year has been bad.

      3. More books are being sold today than at any time during the history of books.

      4 Steam has proven that with the correct business model Games are making more profits than they ever have.

      5.Now I wonder if Music income has dropped, very hard to tell with so many independents selling more music than ever, so even if the top labels are losing it does not mean less money is being spent, but if there is less money being spent it is possibly because there is no online cheap distribution method. If you can download 1 million songs for nothing from the internet in just a few hours/days it will be harder to create a business model that works, but in all honesty the music labels have barely been trying and are actually proud of themselves for stopping new online businesses that wish to distribute music.

      So lets see if you look at the known facts it looks like everyone is doing rather well, more music is being produced but there is an inability to purchase it all in one place at a price people feel is reasonable, but that is not the customers fault that is the industries fault.

       

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    bsod, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    drunk

    6th to last paragraph: "Send out the press release, watch it get picked it up, and call it a day. NPD and RIAA simply owned the discussion. Now they have to nitpick with academics. " am i just reading it wrong cause of all the booze ive had or should it say more like "Send out the press release, watch it get picked up, and call it a day. NPD and RIAA simply owned the discussion. Now they have to nitpick with academics. "

     

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    Titania Bonham-Smythe (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    The biggest thing that comes out of those numbers is that bands who make money out of merchandise and concert tickets should absolutely love people who do p2p - they are the customers who will make the bands rich - they should do everything they can to encourage them and show they love them in every possible way. Any hint that they dislike them would directly cut into their profits.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:52pm

    Let me take up the issue of buying less than I used to.

    Back in the day, I invested seriously in quality stereo. I purchased around $500 a year in music. Today I spend exactly zero on music.

    For one thing, the quality of mp3s are not suited for quality equipment. The studio recording engineers are terrible at over bassing and under stressing the quieter passages. On the whole the quality of music has degraded seriously. The cost of songs has went up.

    I don't do p2p for music. It's not worth the bandwidth to download it. As a consequence I hear no new music and my interest in such as degraded to the point I just don't care anymore. I'd rather play a game. Because I spend no time hearing new music, I have no interest in new stuff.

    Where you can hear music for free outside the internet is on over the air radio. You listened to that lately? It's the same songs hour after hour, every day. Once a week two new songs are inserted into the playlist and two old songs are removed. No avenue to hear new interesting stuff that might lead me to buy.

    Buying DRMed songs has been shown over and over to be foolish. Not only is it that sometimes it plays and sometimes not, but when the authorizing servers go down, that's the end of the collection you spent money on. Catch a serious virus and it's over before that. That's not value for the money and I refuse to accept the deal.

    Add to it the last point of the entertainment industry acting like a spoiled child over not being able to refuse to share their toys and making it difficult to hear new stuff on trial, plus the sue'em all that went on and I want nothing anymore to do with music. I'll take my money to where there are less chances of getting sued, even if you use it how it's supposed to be used. Accountants and lawyers have ruined music. I'll not support them.

     

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      TroutFishingUSA, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 3:23pm

      Re:

      For one thing, the quality of mp3s are not suited for quality equipment. The studio recording engineers are terrible at over bassing and under stressing the quieter passages. On the whole the quality of music has degraded seriously. The cost of songs has went up.


      I agree that the quality of mp3s and most modern recordings leaves more than a bit to be desired, but please don't blame the engineers. The squashed state of modern music is a bane to most audio engineers and mastering engineers. They only overcompress at the request of the artist, or whoever is pulling the purse strings. I've never met a single engineer who wanted to smash his own mixes; they have to do what the clients ask for. It's musicians/whoever that are always clamoring for their record to be louder than the next guy's. It's a depressing state of affairs, considering that we have technology and equipment, both new and vintage, available to make stellar recordings.

      Also, and I don't have a cite to back this up so I'll do some back of the envelope math, but the general consensus I hear is that the cost of singles and albums has gone down over the last 40 years when adjusted for inflation. I believe (and I'm too young to know for sure) that a single 45rpm would have cost about $1 in the mid '60s. That would be half a buck for each side, so about 50˘ a song. Half the cost of today, but adjusted for inflation that dollar would be around $3.50 (a 600% increase?). So $1.25 a song; which is more than what iTunes charges. (And to be fair, most people were buying 45s for only the A-side, so they were spending their dollar for the hit single, with little concern for the B-side. On top of that, some 45s simply had the same song on both sides. That would mean people were paying the equivalent of $3.50 for the one song they wanted.)

      Albums cost roughly $4 in the '60s, so that would bring the price to $28 today. So the canard that music is more expensive to buy today just doesn't fly.

       

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      That One Guy (profile), Nov 16th, 2012 @ 2:24am

      Apologies fo the sales-pitch tone of the following

      Allow me to present...

      http://bandcamp.com/

      Easy to use, no signup required, cheaply priced music, available in multiple formats, no DRM, and best of all you can sample the entire album most times for free, so you know ahead of time if the album/song is something you want to buy.

      (Well I'm already sounding like a shill here, might as well end it appropriately)

      'Bandcamp: For when you want to enjoy music without some greedy scrum-bag middle-man getting in the way and screwing everything up.'

       

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    NAProtector, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 12:55pm

    Out_of_his_head: First, I should point out that I never figure a moron like you would comment on anything I would write.

    Second, you assume too much. I find people that complain like you do never tried doing it themselves. I would bet that you NEVER wrote a song, written music, manuscript, book, or any sort of entertainment piece ever. (Except for your post. Reading them is like watching a man being tazed while swinging a bat at the police while screaming, "I'm not resisting.")

    Third, I may struggle taking a crap that looks like a famous person but I don't think that everyone that has ever seen it, the people that sold me food I ate that day, and the farmers/butchers are required to pay me for making it. The point here is that ALL creative people start off with nothing (one truth you did accurately point out) but it takes people to like, love, and want to support them. The problem that is being illustrated here is that the middlemen, NOT THE ARTIST, are whining that there cash flow is going away.

    So, out-of-the-penny for thoughts, try this out. You make something to sell through the RIAA/MPAA, and I'll make something, market it myself, and even give it away for free. Then we will see who made more. (HINT: It will never be you!)

     

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    Lowestofthekeys (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:13pm

    "Of course people interested in music buy more."

    This is the big disconnect Friedlander has with relating to the audience that is interested in music. He assumes they would rather buy than sample music.

    I'm not a music aficionado, but I imagine those who are have been burned out on the stockpile of crap music they've pushed through the air waves for the past decade, and are not willing to spend money on pop music they hear iterated over and over again.

     

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    ECA (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:22pm

    lETS ASK A FEW QUESTIONS IN THIS

    Ok..
    What are the TYPES of music being DL??

    OLD OLD stuff,No longer Published, UN-published, No longer distributed, no longer available(in area OR at all)..?? And IT WAS SUPPOSED to be someplace called the public domain..

    And now for a STATEMENT..
    What music, if any, do you/CAN YOU find near you?
    What music(PAID FOR) can you find in services or available.
    International music?? that USA corps would over price..
    how many places on the NET do you have to look to find the songs/music you LIKE? or even try?
    Anyone here, that would like to TRY something NEW?? find a NEW artist insted of the OLD stuff we LIKED?
    WHERE can you go to get the music you like..

    NOW, I dont know about YOUR area, but living OUT from a major metro area, the list is Very short, to NONE..

     

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      TroutFishingUSA, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 3:54pm

      Re: lETS ASK A FEW QUESTIONS IN THIS

      OLD OLD stuff,No longer Published, UN-published, No longer distributed, no longer available(in area OR at all)..?? And IT WAS SUPPOSED to be someplace called the public domain..

      Cite? Because when I look at the "charts" on TPB or any of the other sundry illicit sites, it seems the most downloaded songs match up pretty evenly with the Top40 playlist.

      I mean, I dream of a day when everyone is searching out rare Leo Kottke jams recorded in a broken outhouse, but that just ain't reality.

      ASIDE: If anyone is interested in seeing actual sales charts rather than airplay charts, then you should check out the "Street Pulse" chart at AllAccess.com. You will be surprised at the discrepancy. If some radio station would just start playing that list, I think they would clean up. Even the iTunes "Most Downloaded" would make a better playlist than ClearChannel's demographic-fishing program.

      What music, if any, do you/CAN YOU find near you?

      I'm going to assume you're typing this on net-connected computer. I'll let you draw your own conclusion.

      What music(PAID FOR) can you find in services or available

      I'm not sure at all what this means.

      International music?? that USA corps would over price..

      Again, you are using a computer, correct? Besides, the cost of imports isn't a "US corps" thing. That's a government thing. And last I checked, Adele, Mumford & Sons, Winehouse, One Direction, Psy, et al are all "international" acts. They're not from the US, and their albums are priced competitively with our domestic releases.

      how many places on the NET do you have to look to find the songs/music you LIKE? or even try?

      Jesus Christ, man! I don't know. Maybe one of the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of blogs that promote new music every single fucking day? There are blogs that aggregate the blogs, and then aggregators that aggregate the aggregators! (hypem.com, for instance) Seriously, your head seems as buried as any of the gatekeepers that are so vociferously decried around here.

      NOW, I dont know about YOUR area, but living OUT from a major metro area, the list is Very short, to NONE..

      Hey, I can understand this frustration. I grew up in a very small town. I will say this, though: you probably aren't looking hard enough. I've toured all over the country, and not once have I ever played a town that didn't have at least 20 aspiring musicians. You can't wait for this stuff to be fed to you, you have to actively seek it out. Hell, I've yet to find a town that didn't have at least one closet turntablist; which is a rare breed to say the least.

       

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    Bengie, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Relationship

    Customers have a symbiotic relationship with artists. It's a give/take relationship. When one side takes more than it gives, everyone is hurt.

     

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    DanZee (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 2:10pm

    Extinction

    The bottom line is the recording industry doesn't want to admit to the facts because it sees its dinosaur business falling apart. Recording companies are actually in the retail business, not the music business, and it didn't understand what its business would be like without retail. They needed to adapt just like sheet music publishers did a century ago. Music publishers stopped printing sheet music and started collecting royalties for their songwriters. Recording companies need to give up their notion of distributing plastic disks and concentrate on promoting MUSIC not records.

     

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    Androgynous Cowherd, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 2:54pm

    The real reason for their behavior is simple.

    --------- Non-P2P ----- P2P
    CDs ------- $24 -------- $23

    That's it, in a nutshell. It doesn't matter if they spend more elsewhere; P2P users spend less on CDs, therefore they are EVIL INCARNATE and must be destroyed. Digital files be damned, the record labels want to sell records and if they can't sell high-margin CDs anymore that means WAR!!!!!1!11one

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2012 @ 3:43pm

    I wonder what'll happen when all the computer manufacturers stop including CD drives in their computers? Will the RIAA lobby Congress into making computers without CD drives illegal?

    That'd be a hilarious trainwreck. What constitutes a "computer"? Desktop/tower? Laptop (including the Ultrabook design)? Game console? Smartphone?

     

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    hfbs (profile), Nov 15th, 2012 @ 3:47pm

    "yeah, but they pirate more than they buy!"
    "that as may be - they still buy more than non-pirates"
    "yeah, but.. piracy!"

     

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    Yoann Ricordel, Nov 16th, 2012 @ 3:32am

    Please learn your statistics

    DISCLAIMER: I don't particularly like RIAA and I think they are basically dinosaurs fearing to lose their supremacy.

    That being said, this argument is a total fallacy. You are mixing causality and correlation. "The ones who pirate are also the ones who buy music" DOES NOT mean pirating causes buying. It does NOT mean "I pirate music, SO I buy music".

    It could very well be "I love music, SO I buy a lot AND I pirate a lot". Sounds reasonable, doesn't it ? And then you cannot say that pirating is indeed good for the sales. It's people loving music that's good for the sales, AND in the same time implies some piracy.

    If we want to put the RIAA in front of its contradictions, we'd better have solid and VALID arguments. This one is not, so it's harmful because it makes us look like idiots. But it's an easy buzz, I admit.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2012 @ 7:51am

      Re: Please learn your statistics

      I read the whole article and most of the comments, and I don't recall anyone claiming that "piracy" itself was good for sales.

      The distinction I think you are missing is that the data show that "pirates" are good for sales, since they buy the most music (in addition to what they "pirate"). This does seem to suggest that "piracy" at least does not deter people from buying music and might actually lead to buying more since people get to sample a lot more music for free to find what they like, but I agree that the data doesn't prove anything beyond a correlation.

      Regardless of whether "piracy" encourages purchasing, it doesn't make sense for labels to go such great lengths to persecute and drive away people who are demonstrably their best customers!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2012 @ 6:46am

    Alright this a little confusing but this is the message I'm getting from them.

    They want me to stop buying music and only download. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

     

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    Coyo, Nov 18th, 2012 @ 10:38am

    Why support RIAA Corporate Welfare when Bandcamp exists?

    I dont find this particularly surprising.

    I have observed, as many others have, that the RIAA almost always shoot themselves in the foot and cause many intelligent consumers of music to actively avoid paying them money in any form.

    As noted in the article, music by itself is a somewhat declining market, as music integrated into games and movies and other media compete for limited attention and disposable income.

    I'm already paying many hundreds of dollars for Internet service bundles, mobile data plans, and other recurring expenses. When free alternatives like Spotify or Youtube exist, and the music is not compelling or appealing in any way, why should I go out of my way to pay money for it?

    If music appeals to me, if it touches me, then i earmark some of my limited discretionary income to donate to the musicians or bands that have contributed something meaningful to me.

    But for the RIAA to have the utter temerity and gall to demand that i pay a very limited portion of my income for a bunch of bland unappealing crap, which i may only listen to once and never listen to again willingly is abhorrent, and shows how blatantly and horrifically RIAA is arrogant, exceedingly myopic and anachronistic to honestly expect me to pay 14-17 dollars for a stupid piece of plastic i will never actually use. optical discs are stupid, and the only reason i touch my bluray disc drive at all, is to burn data dvds and even then, only to tinker with my operating system.

    I have never, once, used my bluray disc drive for burning music files, and why would i? when i can hop over to bandcamp.com and get all of my favorite artists' latest works and pay whatever i want? If i feel like i can spare 40 dollars, i give them 40 dollars, sometimes for a single FLAC music file.

    To be, the arrogance and sense of entitlement of the RIAA and related organizations, and the aggressive attempts to milk our tax money for corporate welfare is a very, very disgusting and pathetic behavior, and to me, THAT is the criminal activity that I see being committed here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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