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Illegal Downloaders Spend More Money On Music

Gordon Kelly


Illegal Downloaders Spend More Money On Music

If music industry executives were any more out of date they probably could've fathered themselves...

Dispelling yet another industry myth this week is the (in my opinion not remotely startling) revelation that users who download music illegally over the Internet actually spend more money buying it than anyone else.

According to the Independent, the poll conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of think-tank Demos discovered an average of £77 per year is spent on music by confirmed illegal downloaders. This compares to just £33 - well under half - by those who claim to have never engaged in illegal downloads. The poll surveyed 1,000 16 to 50 year olds - the music industry's key demographic - and discovered just one in 10 admitted to downloading music illegally.

"The latest approach from the Government will not help prop up an ailing music industry," said think-tank's Peter Bradwell in reference to government plans to disconnect illegal file sharers. "Politicians and music companies need to recognise that the nature of music consumption has changed, and consumers are demanding lower prices and easier access."

Naturally enough the music industry used this opportunity to once again show how completely out of touch it is. It suggests that illegal music downloaders are the ones most interested in music and therefore were always going to spend more than casual listeners. This is a moot point since all it proves is the industry has disillusioned its most important audience.

That said, it doesn't matter what the music industry or the government thinks. Users will vote by their actions - right or wrong - and until flat rate, unlimited, DRM-free music (and potentially TV and film) with zero day availability comes in at a price they find wholly acceptable then the majority of file sharers will never be deterred.

iTunes was a start. Amazon MP3 and 7Digital an evolution, the likes of Napster and Spotify an improvement again, but we still remain a long way off what is required. Simple fact. Black and white.


via the Independent


November 3, 2009, 10:01 pm

So by fighting files sharers and trying to end piracy.. they are effectively aiming to reduce their profits by over 50%. Hahahaha, that's funny.


November 3, 2009, 10:47 pm

I hardly see it as a wake up call. Similar results have come to light before yet they choose to ignore them. They're just greedy.

Right, now to play with their own numbers a bit (which I know were already shown to be fudged, but then I'm not trying to be terribly accurate):

The Gov claims there are 7 million illegal file-sharers in Britain. Cool, so going by this report, that's 7x77 = £539 million revenue from these people who should be punished. And that's just music.

They're (and by they, I mean Mandy) just being really closed-minded about this; for reasons I don't even have the time to go into.

Tim Sutton

November 3, 2009, 11:13 pm

I spend so much money on music I don't really want to think about it.

I go to 2 or 3 gigs a month on average, and most of the time it's to see relatively obscure bands I'd never have discovered if I'd had to pay to have their music. I'm contributing thousands a year to the music industry, and it's BECAUSE I have free access to their music.

I'm absolutely certain I'm not unique in this in the slightest.


November 3, 2009, 11:59 pm

Brilliant... and if the survey had concluded that shoplifters spent more on shopping would you be tacitly legitimizing that too?


November 4, 2009, 12:18 am

@simonm - welcome to Misunderstanding the Argument 101. Please re-read.


November 4, 2009, 1:45 am

Apologies for being a pedant, but a more accurate conclusion of this survey would be "Self-confessed illegal downloaders spend more money on music". If 50% of the 900 who denied downloading illegally were actually lying because they were too ashamed to admit it, then the average amount spent per month by illegal downloaders would be significantly less.

Irrespective of this, the record companies have to face up to the fact that the world has changed and they need to adapt instead of moan about lre's very little they can do to change the landscape they now find themselves in.


November 4, 2009, 2:31 am

You (TR) make an interesting point in your graphic with miss-spellings and colloquial English. I do wonder if many such illlegal (sic) file-sharers are as poorly educated as your graphic suggests....


November 4, 2009, 2:41 am

Just ask the poor government scientist about what speaking the truth gets you - fired lol! If it doesn't put money in the right pockets while conveying a pre-determined message, it's wrong. End of story as far as they seem to see it..


November 4, 2009, 2:46 am

It SHOULD be a wake up call, but will the Government hear it? Not likely. They are rarely troubled by little things like facts. In light of recent events, maybe some of the government's technology advisers will mention this survey and get themselves fired for trying to have a rational debate...

drdark I must disagree about Mandelson being closed-minded; he is open to any and all opportunities to feather his nest. This may be the solution: If all file-sharers contribute a couple of pounds then we can probably come up with a suitably large bribe (don't forget the free holiday) to get the policies we want... ;)


November 4, 2009, 3:10 am

Its strange to believe that at the beginning of this decade the normal price of an album was around £14.99, despite the costs of production and copying the data nowhere near that price. There have been countless attempts to double dip from the consumer, making them purchase multiple copies of the same work. Bringing out "special" editions of albums by simply adding a "bonus" track and charging £18.99 for it.

Imagine if for every generation handed down their music and this music was shared with every member in that family. Isn't this illegal file sharing, but at what point can the record companies prosecute for this? "Piracy" is unstoppable in an age where you can copy digital content easily. If this is a given, then why are record companies wasting time protecting traditional distribution channels. Look to the future!

In the future I imagine people to look back on copyright infringement and intellectual property rights and laugh at how slow reform was. Instead you'll be renting the use of everything from music to games and physically owning things like records will make you look like an antique collector.


November 4, 2009, 3:26 am

@Chocoa - it's called sarcasm. It represents file sharers being treated like children. Hope that helps ;)


November 4, 2009, 4:25 am

@Gordon LOL. Yup, kinda knew where you were coming from. Clearly my slanted sarcasm was perhaps to subtle! However, glad we agree non the less.


November 4, 2009, 4:59 am

I would like to think I am a fairly typical user. I regularly (several times per week) download content from P2P sites. Very little of this (in size terms) is music though.

For music, I have no particular taste. I listen to what I like, and this can be several genres. I often see an advert on TV, run Shazam, and see who it is. I then download it, and if I like it, I buy it. This could be an album or a single track.

Music isn't the main issue though. I download far more TV / movie content than music. In the past year or so, I've downloaded countless productions - films and TV shows like House, CSI, Stargate, BSG - too numerous to count them all.

Invariably, I end up buying them on DVD. I download to get them as soon as they're available. The UK is normally delayed.

If these shows were not delayed for the UK, I'd watch them in the UK, along with all the advertising, and still buy them on a ratio not altered; CSI I can live without, BSG and Stargate I must have.

Films are the same. I'm an avid film consumer, and visit the cinema at least every week. It is odd that I can pay £12 or whateve it is to Cineworld and watch as much as I want, yet for music, this somehow isn't allowed. I download films that I wouldn't normally pay to watch in the cinema, but which aren't going to be released on DVD in the UK for several months.

Publishers of any content really should take note. People like me will pay for what they want. We don't expect to be kept waiting because we're in a different country. If I want to see it in a concert or a cinema, I'll pay a premium. A word of warning though - if you don't sort it out, I'll be quite happy to keep downloading, and for every one of me that does actually buy stuff, there will be 20 who don't pay for anything at all.

If you want to sell something, sell it properly, and stop using business models developed in the 1930s.


November 4, 2009, 2:18 pm

I'll be honest. Until I started using sites like Spotify (and its iPhone app in particular) and Napster I genuinely downloaded any album that was awarded 7/10 or higher by NME (apart from R&B, rap, and head bashing music). This means I was downloading a heap every month. But, I would listen to these albums and the ones that I liked (usually 1 in 4) would be bought and the rest would just fester away somewhere in the music library and would be removed from the iPod to save space.

For a time, illegal downloading was a great means for me to spend my money wisely. I had moved out of the parents and thus didnt have the £3-400 a month to spend on albums and needed a way to trim it down. Some albums (think prog-rock type) cannot be sold by listening to a 30 second preview clip from Amazon/iTunes so I chose to download and pick more wisely.

With the streaming industry taking off I personally think people have little excuse to illegally download now. Especially when considering Spotify's free service. But each to there own.

Greg makes some valid points. A lot of his downloading mirrors my actions. I think it is only a matter of time before proper tv/movie streaming (think Spotify for movies!) will happen. Id happily pay £20 a month if I could get access to most movies/tv whenever I like (£30 for HD?). I know there are service like this in existence from Virgin and the likes but I mean a proper film/tv library, no 12 month contracts and a quick and user intuitive interface. Streaming is the future of home entertainment I reckon.


November 4, 2009, 4:29 pm

Yet another wake-up call that will be blatantly ignored by the music industry.


November 4, 2009, 6:04 pm

Ok what they also fail to take into account here is sales from tickets to gigs/ merchandise etc etc

I'm a self confessed gig addict and I can safely say were it not for illegal downloading of music then I probably wouldn't have discovered 90% of the bands I've been to see never mind actually gone and watched them and brought a t-shirt etc

I'll buy a cd if it's on sale at £5 but whilst all the companies keep charging £11 for new releases or bringing out special editions 6 months after initial release I'll stick to the illegal downloading and they can get my money through ticket sales and merchandise!


November 4, 2009, 8:49 pm

@Jones:With the streaming industry taking off I personally think people have little excuse to illegally download now. Especially when considering Spotify's free service. But each to there own.

I'm with you on this one, I'm currently a premium Spotify user. If I could say pay another £20 per month to have the same level of service for Films/TV shows etc, then I can't see any reason why I'd need to illegally download anything.

Currently I must spend at most £50 per year for CD/DVD's, now @ £30 per month that's £360 :). I could also then save £139.50 on not having a TV licence. BBC = repeats now anyway.


November 4, 2009, 10:25 pm

@dave - Unfortunately it is a complete myth that bands make money from touring/gig ticket sales. You forget, or maybe weren't ever aware, that bands traditionally tour in order to promote their music and get people to buy their CDs. Unless you're Metallica or U2, touring isn't a way to make a living. Saying you don't need to buy CDs because you go to gigs instead is an excuse many illegal downloaders use with great regularity, but it doesn't really help the smaller bands.


November 4, 2009, 10:58 pm

@Metalex: I'm sorry, but how can something be a complete myth if it's the commonly held view which I've read about in most articles? I'm no expert on the matter, and please don't take this as an attack as I'm sure there are exceptions to every rule, but could we have some examples?



November 5, 2009, 3:10 pm

@drdark - Why do I need to give examples? Think of any small, underground or even medium sized band struggling to sell music and not selling out gigs at every venue, then you'll get the picture. Anyway, you wanted a specific example, so read this forum post by Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth. Not the biggest band in the world, but they have a pretty loyal worldwide following and are one of the most influential metal bands around today: http://www.ultimatemetal.co...

Now, can I have some links to the articles you have read?


November 5, 2009, 7:13 pm

Here is a simple (albeit a fairly isolated example) of my frustration with the whole music industry at the moment:

I recently wanted to get a new album by a fairly unknown band.

- First looked at the CD and for some reason it was around £15 on most sites. Forget that, I don't want it that much!

- iTunes, yes it is there at normal £7.99. But, I won't use them as I don't want their DRM'd AAC crap. No thanks.

- Amazon MP3 UK. They don't have it

- 7Digital. Same

- Amazon MP3 US. They have it at good price. Great! "Buy".....Sorry, for US only. Oh FFS.

....Getting fed up now.

.....and guess where I could easily get it in exactly the format I wanted. Yep, that well known Swedish Torrent site. Jeez.

So, Mr Music Industry that is why you fail! All your stupid rules, restictions and everything else that you do to rip off the consumer. It's such a mess.


November 5, 2009, 7:26 pm

@Keith - Would be nice, but I think Sky may have something to say about any "on demand" service for movies that only costs £20! They already charge a lot more than that for their standard TV movie channels! And as such, because the movie industry get so much money from Sky, I am sure they will not be keen to give that revenue up in a hurry!


November 5, 2009, 8:29 pm

@Steve32 - you realise that iTunes is DRM-free now, don't you?


November 5, 2009, 9:50 pm

@Metalex - Ahhh, is it? No, I didn't know that. I thought it was only the "high quality" (i.e. more expensive!) stuff that was DRM free. Even then I believe they tag the files with your account information. I have nothing to hide, but out of principle that just winds me up! It certainly isn't obviousy in iTunes if something is DRM'd or not!

With good old MP3's you know where you stand. You know they will work in pretty much anything. And, my collection is all MP3 so I want to stick with that. So, my position remains the same with iTunes - No Thanks!


November 5, 2009, 9:51 pm

@Metalex: Like I said above, I'm no expert, and sadly have never heard of Opeth (but thanks, I'll check them out). However, I just recall reading things along those lines more than once. I did a quick search and here's what was thrown up. The general consensus seems to be that selling Records/CDs hardly ever made any money for any band no matter how far back you look:






Re: iTunes. I thought only some tracks were DRM-free. Not sure if they're clearly marked. Anyone here not an Apple-Hater that can verify? Cub?

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