More Hot Air On File Sharing
Nielsen/NetRatings provided good news for at least some music industry executives as a recent survey contradicted the popular belief that file sharing deters music purchasing. The survey by the web tracking firm found that file sharers were in fact "111% more likely to purchase rap music than the average Internet user over the past three months," followed by dance/club music (106%) & alternative rock (77%). What's more surprising is that these are the same consumers (young, urban & wired) that the major labels are most afraid of losing to file sharing and presently targeting with lawsuits and hack attacks.
This may also be good news for the movie industry despite consulting firm BearingPoint's warning that their summer blockbusters "may be stolen from the decks of the major studios by digital pirates due to insecure distribution channels." Let them steal it and distribute it! According to Nielsen/NetRatings, such theft and pirated distribution of the most popular movies will drive file sharers straight to their local theaters. No such luck for indie or foreign films, which like Alternative Country, World and Blues music genres, are likely to see little to cheer about.
Are you taking this seriously? What about research firm Ipsos' quarterly digital music study that consistently finds file sharers are five times more likely to burn rather than purchase a CD? The fact is that these 'research' surveys are about as accurate as the exit poll figures on election night. They are an entirely inaccurate tool in determining the real impact file sharing is having on recorded music sales. It holds about as much water as industry organization charts showing how CD sales started dropping as file sharing emerged.
What we do know is that file sharing is inhibiting purchases among some file sharers while boosting it among others. The Nielsen/NetRatings survey appears to indicate that this same 'taketh/giveth' effect could also be felt across genres. In fact, if we were to take an ultra-micro approach to the question, there are likely artists benefitting while Madonna loses.
What we are incapable of saying with any statistical & scientific certainty, despite all the 'significant' research, is what the net effect actually is, and not only on recorded music sales, but concert ticket sales, merchandising or even song plugging - and if someone wishes to challenge that claim, I welcome it.
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