This is a very interesting post from Ars Technica about file sharing (illegal music downloading). Is it bad for the industry? The post cites a recent study on this matter:
The data used was from 1995 through 2003. Michel wanted to see if there’s a link between owning a computer and decreased CD buying during those years. It turns out that there is. During 2002 computer owners’ CD sales decreased by $4.79 a year, and by $5.55 in 2003. Those without computers only decreased by $0.80 and $0.22, respectively. On the other hand, in 2001, the year that Napster closed, people with computers increased their CD buying by 19 percent while non-computer owners held steady. Could the decrease in CD buying the following two years be chalked up to increased sales of digital downloads, which started to become popular just at that time? The paper does not address the question.
According to Michel’s methodology, those who owned a computer bought almost 13 percent fewer CDs from 1999 to 2003, with those who bought the most music showing the largest decrease. His conclusion is that file-sharing does have an effect on music sales, a conclusion shared by Zentner (2005), Hong (2004), Liebowitz (2004), and Rob and Waldfogel (2004).
The scholarly consensus is not unanimous, however. Michel notes that Oberholzer and Strumpf (2004) found no correlation between file-sharing and P2P use in 2002, and a more recent paper by a Harvard student found that file-sharing benefited more obscure artists.
Read the complete post here.
I really don’t care if file sharing hurts the bottom line of Britney Spears and P Diddy. It is good for smaller (i.e. classical and jazz) artists, which have been notoriously sidelined and underrepresented by major record labels. The forward march of technology will only help art music, not hurt it.