Well, it's all over for the illegal music stealing guys, then: Entertainment Media Research's Digital Music Survey has just reported and it's good news for the music industry:
"Despite the ubiquity of free music, there's a real willingness by consumers to pay for music products if the package is right," said Alexander Ross, music partner at the media law firm Wiggin, which co-authored the study. The optimistic verdict contrasts with last year's survey, which warned that illegal downloading was at an all-time high and set to rise further.
The survey - a poll of 1,500 British consumers - found that online piracy fell by 10% this year, attributing this partly to more aggressive noises from internet service providers, which agreed this year to send warning letters to customers suspected of illegal file sharing.
Ah - so the good news is based on a survey which has found a fall in 'online piracy' (what do you mean by that, exactly?), the same survey which in 2007 confidently predicted that this year we'd be seeing a record high this time round. I'm having trouble deciding exactly how much credence you give to a research company whose headline point is that it's found out it was wrong last year.
The EMR doesn't seem to have thought through that perhaps the "more aggressive noises" from ISPs might not have reduced the level of beyond-copyright activity, but might make consumers 10% less willing than they were last year to tell a complete stranger what they've been up to. Nor does there seem to be any consideration of how the 'three strikes and we'll tut-tut' rule would have had such a deep effect across 2008 as a whole when it's barely got going.
Still, nice to hear someone telling the music industry that - if the paid-for offering is right, people will pay for things. If only, you know, the entire blogging world had thought of directing that thought to the RIAA-BPI for the last ten years, huh?
Actually, what sort of news is it to report that your survey has discovered that if you offer people something they want, at a price they're prepared to pay, they will make a purchase? If this is news, shouldn't the BBC News Channel clear the airwaves to carry GCSE Economics lessons round the clock?
Even more dodgy is the report's decision that music videos are the future:
The report also pointed to the popularity of music videos on YouTube as a further reason for optimism. YouTube plans to develop e-commerce opportunities that would allow people to buy music directly after viewing videos.
"The music video is now more influential than ever and has become the industry's trump card for engaging consumers and creating that long-term emotional connection required for monetisation," said Russell Hart, chief executive of Entertainment Media Research. "It is now the vital component in music marketing."
Don't you love it when someone creates some content that will allow them to monetise your long-term emotional connection, people? Thank god someone is working on how to make cash from those feelings of love, sexual arousal and that sweet, miserable joy when an artists captures your pain.
But is the video really the answer? Is Hart telling us that we can't actually form an emotional attachment to a piece of music unless there's a man in a bear costume riding a bike through a snowstorm or something else for us to gawk at while it's playing? Who did they carry their survey out on - shellshocked six year olds?
And Hart seems to have missed that the link to buy music on YouTube is less because the video is where the money is, and more down to the miserable experience Google are having trying to make some advertising dollars out of all this video content. A really compelling video will make people want to watch more videos, not head off to do some shopping.
Still, great to hear EMR confirm that the era of mass musical piracy is at an end. Good research work, people. Everyone take a... what? What's that, NME.com?
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