Music downloading has become one of the most common and controversial online activities to date, and is continuing to grow. Its popularity is largely due to the development of audio compression technology, broadband connections and increasing ownership of personal digital music players.
7 top ‘music downloading’ facts
1. Profits up
Even though the record companies are still complaining about the supposedly disastrous effects of music file sharing, the Warner music group confirmed back in 2005 that profits for the three months prior to December 31 increased to $ 69 million, from $ 36 million for the same period the previous year.
Profits continue to rise, and are believed to be due to the sale of high-margin digital tracks from music download sites like Rhapsody and Napster, coupled with a dramatic reduction in distribution costs.
2. File sharers took band to number 1
The British band ‘Arctic Monkeys’ debut album sold a staggering 360,000 copies in its first week of release. This amazing success has been attributed to the music file sharing community, spreading free CDs handed out at early gigs in 2004 on the P2P networks.
The band were reportedly amazed when crowds started to sing back the words as they performed at larger gigs, and highlights the role that viral Internet marketing and loyal fans played in promoting the band.
This supports the popular theory that the Internet is changing the way that bands break into the mainstream and market themselves, putting them in a very strong position, and setting an exciting precedent for the future.
3. File sharing is killing the music industry?
Despite the fact that the UK legal download market is thriving and that album sales are at an all time high, BPI (British Phonographic Industry) officials still insist that file sharing is killing the music industry, and that they must take action.
4. Dead grandmother sued
A month after she had died of a long illness, 83 year old Gertrude Walton became the target of a recording industry lawsuit accusing her of online music file sharing. Several record companies claimed that she had made available over 700 pop, rock and rap tracks online, using the net handle ‘smittenedkitten’.
5. Legal in Canada
Using P2P networks to download copyrighted music is legal in Canada. Instead, the Copyright Board of Canada have imposed a tax on recording media such as audio tapes, recordable CDs, and MP3 players which goes into a fund to compensate musicians and songwriters for any revenue lost due to copying.
Judge von Finckenstein is quoted as saying “I cannot see a real difference between a library that places a photocopy machine in a room full of copyrighted material and a computer user that places a personal copy of a song on a shared directory linked to a Peer-to-Peer (file sharing) service”.
Uploading remains illegal however, and this could become a model for countries looking for a balance between protecting artists’ copyright, and giving consumers more liberal access to copyrighted material.
6. Legal in France
France has determined that the sharing of copyrighted files on the Internet qualifies as “private copying”, and is legal for personal and non-commercial use.
7. “Piracy has no negative effect on legitimate music sales”
This was the conclusion of a study conducted by two university researchers, Felix Oberholzer-Gee of Harvard Business School, and Koleman Strumpf of the University of North Carolina.
The researchers found that the most heavily downloaded tracks ‘showed no measurable drop in sales’ and that music file sharing actually increases CD sales for popular albums that sell more than 600,000 copies. They found, after tracking sales of 680 albums over 17 weeks, that “for every 150 downloads of a song from those albums, sales increase by a copy”.
This is in direct conflict with the music industry’s allegation that Internet file sharing is having a detrimental effect on sales.