Sunday, March 14, 2010

Online music: The name escapes me

ConsumerFocus published a survey this week which laid out its case in a rather blunt headline:

More must be done to make Consumers aware of legal options to buy music online before an enforcement approach is taken.

Which you'd have to give two cheers to, although, frankly, the problem with the Digital Economy Bill is not that people don't know what their legal options are, and more about the whole throwing-people-off-the-internet-because-a-Japanese-electronics-company-says-so approach.

The survey makes an eyecatching claim, as surveys tend to:
The research released today shows that four in ten people are unable to name a single online music service at all – despite there being over 20 services on the market.

If you twist that round, it actually says that 60% of the UK population are able to come up with the name of an online music service, which is quite good, I'd have thought.

The problem is that ConsumerFocus focus on these 40% who can't. They suggest if, in a room of ten people, four can't even come up with Amazon or iTunes, that's a pretty shabby state of affairs:
Jill Johnstone, International Director, Consumer Focus, said: “The music industry is shooting itself in the foot by not promoting legal online music services. If file sharing is causing the damage the music industry claims, why aren’t they putting more effort in to promoting the legal alternatives?

“Before we go down the enforcement road it is only fair to ask the music industry to do more to make people aware of the legal options.”

You'll know that I tend to not be a great fan of "the music industry", but this seems a little unfair on them. Why should you expect a wholesaler to pay for their customers to build their retail brand identity?

More to the point, is a 40% shrug rate actually bad? After all, is someone who, when asked to name an online music store, can't even think of iTunes really going to be then going home and searching for torrents? Not even the RIAA have suggested that the Pirate Bay has infected the files it tracks with a drug that makes users forget the name of legal services.

And while Consumer Focus doesn't bother to share much of its methodology in the press release, it does offer this:
The face to face omnibus survey was carried out by BMRB Omnibus Surveys from Thursday 18th – Wednesday 24th amongst 1995 adults aged 15+. The findings are representative of the GB population.

So they've asked everybody. In which case, amongst those four-out-of-ten who can't name a music service is quite likely to be the two out of ten who have never even been on the internet [according to the ONS].

So, that's ten people, six of whom do have knowledge of legal online brands, two who don't, and two who don't go near the internet at all. Surely not a major problem?