Here’s something I’ve known for quite a while. Digital music research firm The Leading Question found that they spent four and a half times more on paid-for music downloads than average fans.
Back during Napster’s heyday, my CD-buying habit (already an addiction) went into high gear. I’d sample a song or two via Napster, and if I liked it enough, I’d go to my local A&B Sound or Zulu Records and pick up a “real” copy. Napster cost me a lot of money. This goes against “conventional” wisdom, which says that P2P users are only interested in getting things for free. While there is that element of hoarding free music just because you can, it was different for me and many other real music fans. We liked the music, and it was more convenient to buy it on a CD, but only if we knew we’d like it.
The question became “Is this good enough to buy?”. Before Napster, I bought some really shocking stuff, based on recommendations or the strength of past releases, or any number of other “good” reasons. Eventually, I ended up buying less because I wasn’t sure what I was getting. I probably missed out on some really good stuff. With Napster, I could be more sure of my purchases, and therefore buy more. There ya go.
“The research clearly shows that music fans who break piracy laws are highly valuable customers,” said Paul Brindley, director of The Leading Question.
Ironically, it seems that the ones who care enough to steal are the same ones who will buy more music for themselves, and tell their friends. It’s the old “geeks-vs-normal-people” argument that’s been happening in technology for a while. Music geeks are not normal people. We have massive music collections and, while some of us may steal music, the music that we don’t steal is still more than your normal person’s.
Rather than taking legal action against downloaders, the music industry needs to entice them to use legal alternatives, the report said.
The record industry needs to realise that one cannot un-invent something. P2P is here to stay. How can they use it to their advantage and still make money? Having lived through the dot-com mania, I hesitate to use the words “paradigm shift”, but something akin to that needs to happen to the music industry. The little guys get it, by and large. It’s the big ones that are still trying to un-invent technology.