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American Music Downloading Declines
By Jon Newton, p2pnet.net
(more articles from this author)
2004-01-06
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The number of Americans downloading music files has dropped drastically since the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) began filing suits against people suspected of copyright infringement, says a new report.

While multiple factors may have contributed, "every nook of the music downloading world has been affected, including the parts of the population that were the most prolific users of online file-sharing networks," says a report compiled from a cross-America phone survey of 1,358 Internet users from November 18-December 14.

"Steep drops in downloading were recorded among students, broadband users, young adults (those ages 18-29) and Internet veterans," says the Pew Internet and American Life Project. "The groups that recorded the steepest plunges in the percentage of downloaders were women (58% decrease in the size of the downloading population), those with some college education (61% decrease) and parents with children living at home (58% decrease). The survey was conducted among those 18 and older."

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The reports says the percentage of music file downloaders had fallen to 14% (about 18 million users) from 29% (about 35 million) since the Project's last report from March 12-19 and April 29-May 20.

"On an average day during the spring survey, 4% of Internet users said they downloaded files," it states. "In the November-December survey just 1% said they were downloading files on any given day during the survey period.

"Furthermore, data from comScore Media Metrix, based on the company's continuously measured consumer panel, show significant declines in the number of people with peer-to-peer file sharing applications running on their computers. In fact, comScore found that usage of each of the four applications sampled - KaZaa, WinMX, BearShare and Grokster - dropped in November versus one year ago. The declines in the user base of each of these applications from November 2002 to November 2003 were: 15% for KaZaa, 25% for WinMX, 9% for BearShare, and 59% for Grokster.

"Conversely, comScore has observed that in recent months a growing number of consumers have turned to a new generation of paid online music services. In November 2003, 3.2 million Americans visited Napster.com, which re-launched as a paid online music service in late October. Apple's iTunes, which expanded to serve Windows-based PC users in mid-October, drew 2.7 million such visitors in November.

The percentage of Internet users who say they share music, video, picture files or computer games with others online dropped from 28% in a June 2003 survey to 20%, say the researchers, although compared to music downloading, the drop in those who say they share music "or other types of media files" was less pronounced.

"This may reflect the large amount of media attention focused on the recording industry?s attempts specifically to curb music downloading and sharing, while efforts to target those who circulate copyrighted images or programs have been less visible," says the study.

"Additionally, there may be a fraction of Internet users who are simply less likely to admit to either downloading music or sharing files due to the negative media portrayal of the activity."


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