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Pirates pay for music; EMI scoffs

on April 23, 2009, 10:45am

If there’s any indication on how the music world works, the best way to describe it is simply a crapshoot. Everything and nothing is predicted at once, but no one really knows what happens. This is the case with a brand new study in regards to the paradox of illegally downloaded P2P music verses credible purchases of said music. According to articles by both Ars Technica and the Bi Norwegian School of Management, music pirates make up the large majority of music buyers:

Researchers examined the music downloading habits of more than 1,900 Internet users over the age of 15, and found that illegal music connoisseurs are significantly more likely to purchase music than the average, non-P2P-loving user.

It gets even more interesting:

However, when it comes to P2P, it seems that those who wave the pirate flag are the most click-happy on services like the iTunes Store and Amazon MP3. BI said that those who said they download illegal music for “free” bought ten times as much legal music as those who never download music illegally.

Since forever, or at least since Napster and all those other music servers flooded the internet with music download databases, the war on pirating has long been a part of popular culture as well as the most recent developments in the restructuring of the music industry. Prominent record label EMI had this to say in regards to the BI statements:

Record label EMI doesn’t quite buy into BI’s stats, though. EMI’s Bjørn Rogstad told Aftenposten that the results make it seem like free downloads stimulate pay downloads, but there’s no way to know for sure. “There is one thing we are not going away, and it is the consumption of music increases, while revenue declines. It can not be explained in any way other than that the illegal downloading is over the legal sale of music,” Rogstad said.

The argument is that the downloads entice people to buy select tracks or “cherry picking” as opposed to buying traditional albums. This has been blamed for the inevitable decline in music sales, however the flip side of the coin is…are the people that illegally download music far more knowledgeable about other music than the average consumer? Why is it then that according to these reports, they’re ironically the primary demographic paying for the music in the first place? What a crazy world we live in, huh?

Even the Canadian branch of the RIAA sided with the information regarding P2P users buying more material. To make the case even more fruitful, the report says 73% of P2P users “bought music after they downloaded it illegally, while the primary reason from the non-P2P camp for not buying music was attributed to plain old apathy.” So boredom is to blame for slumping music sales? Wow.

Get out the dice and roll them because it seems at this point it doesn’t matter regarding slumping sales. It is funny however that the people who have been targeted all these years for the cause of the decline of the music industry itself are actually supporting what’s left of it. The word of the day people is paradox, and yes, this is a prime example.

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