Stop the presses! New data suggests that people who illegally download music are more likely to buy music from legitimate sources (iTunes, Amazon MP3, Beatport, etc.) than are God-fearing, non-illegally downloading folks. Such is the claim from a recent Norwegian study. Of course, the music industry has rubbished the claims, as it so often does.
It’s like this: researchers found that people who illegally download music actually buy 10 times as much legal music as non-illegaly downloaders. In other words, you download that downright terrible Rick Ross album from your favorite BitTorrent establishment—it’s a victimless crime!—while turning around and buying Clarity Live from Jimmy Eat World’s Web site, and then a whole bunch of house nonsense from Beatport, including Radio Slave’s “Koma Koma.” Good stuff.
EMI, one of the record labels of which it’s fashionable to hate nowadays, isn’t too sure, saying, essentially, that correlation does not imply causation. That is, just because someone downloads music from BitTorrent doesn’t automatically mean they’ll later buy music from iTunes. That, and how do you explain why music revenue is down so drastically compared to the good ol’ days. Well, that can be explained, I think, because when people buy music from iTunes they’re not necessarily buying an entire album. If I want a Chris Lake song, all I want is the song, not the entire album. In the past, if I wanted a particular song, I’d have to buy the whole album.
What we really could use is a study that looks into the percentage of illegal downloaders who also buy legal music. Imagine the headlines: “Study finds 70 percent of illegal music downloaders also buy legal music.” That’s more compelling that this study that says, “Hey, a few people who illegally download music actually buy more music than non-illgeal downloaders.”