New Study Says Pirates are Biggest Music Buyers; Labels Unconvinced

Paul Lilly

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) would have you believe that illegally downloading music is crippling an artist's ability to make a living, and so the association, with music artists' best interest in mind of course, has led the crusade against piracy with lawsuit after lawsuit. But is the RIAA only hurting the music industry's best customers?

According a new study by the BI Norwegian School of Management, those who download music illegally via P2P networks are also more likely to pay for digital downloads. The study pinged more than 1,900 internet users over the age of 15, and according to the study's researchers, those who pirate music also bought a staggering ten times as much legal music than those who steer clear of P2P.

"The most surprising is that the proportion of paid download is so high," said Audun Molde from the Norwegian School of Management.

Not surprisingly, record labels are taking the study with a grain of salt. EMI's Bjørn Rogstad believes there is no way to know for sure whether or not illegal downloads stimulate pay downloads, adding "There is one thing that is not going away, and it is the consumption of music increases, while revenue declines. It can not be explained in any way other than that the illegal downloading is over the legal sale of music."

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