At long last, it seems the music industry has finally won its battle against copyright theft: a new survey has discovered that taping music off the radio has almost entirely been eradicated.
There's little else for the industry to be cheered by, though, in the University of Hertfordshire conducted for Fergal Sharkey's lot, the British Music Rights body:
Actually, if only almost half of the collection isn't free, then haven't these people paid for the majority of the music?
And it shouldn't be forgotten that 'not paying for' music isn't quite the same thing as 'obtaining illegally'. Preview mp3s, free tracks, try-before-you-buy offerings - there's lots of ways to fill an mp3 player without breaking the rules.
Having said which, they break the rules:
-- 63 percent download music from P2P networks and 42 percent have allowed others to take their own tracks via the same method, with most thinking they are doing a good deed.
-- People download an average 53 illegal tracks per month via P2P, though some respondents said they bagged up to 5,000 tracks per month.
Personally, if the average number of tracks in the respondent's collection was 1,700, we'd be tempted to play down the importance of people claiming to bag 5,000 tracks a month. And, more importantly, logic suggests that someone adding 60,000 tracks to their music player every year isn't going to be listening to them all - so they hardly represent lost sales of music.
British Music Rights is a little less swivel-eyed than the BPI, so they're able to see the positive aspects of the survey:
“These responses also pull no punches in highlighting how dramatically music consumption has changed, and continues to change; certainly in the case of copying, sharing and recommendation.
“Technology has greatly increased the value of these activities – but it is clear that the financial gains are not necessarily feeding back to the creators: artists, composers and songwriters. How the music industry repositions itself here, and builds new mutually-beneficial commercial partnerships with technology providers remains the key challenge ahead.”
Naturally, you wouldn't expect a rights-fixated body to start from any other position than to assume that there must be value involved - nobody who currently earns a crust from the music industry is going to ask the awkward and alarming question of if there is any financial value in having people listen to your music on an MP3 player - and until someone does, most of these surveys are missing the point somewhat.
We're also a little puzzled by the first bullet point in the press release:
How, exactly, does one set about proving that scientifically - and if it's just a gut feeling, then does it really have any place in this academic paper? I have nothing against 14 to 24 year-olds, but I seriously doubt if they could be loving music any more than my generation did. Especially since we had less other distractions to lavish our affections on.