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Pirates Buy More Music Than Non-Filesharing Peers

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 67 comments

All too often filesharers are painted as evil pirates who steal from artists and the music industry. However, a recent study has found that those downloading illegally, spend more money purchasing music legally than those who don't download at all.

Research group Demos surveyed over a thousand British people between the ages of 16 and 50 and found that one in ten people admitted to filesharing. However, those that download music illegally spent an average of £77 (around $126) on music each year. Those who say they don't use p2p sites spend an average of £44 (around $72).

The BBC reports that, of the 16-24 year-olds surveyed, 75 percent of them were willing to pay for their tracks if the price was right. The group agreed that a price of 45p (roughly 75c) would be ideal.

Do you think this is an accurate representation of those who use peer to peer services like the Pirate Bay? Indeed, an awful lot of people download their music illegally but if these results are to be believed, then these folk also purchase a significant amount of music each year. Many of you have said in the past that you'll download a track and if you like it, pay for it out of respect for the artist. Then again, a lot of you seem to think record labels make too much money off of the artists they sign and refuse to contribute to that kind of business model.

Do you purchase or pirate your music? Let us know in the comments below!

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Top Comments
  • 29 Hide
    Avenger762 , November 2, 2009 2:14 PM
    If I like something that I've downloaded. I usually go out and buy it later. The retail version is usually better quality.
  • 26 Hide
    ssalim , November 2, 2009 2:10 PM
    There you go, pirates actually help!
  • 25 Hide
    Spanky Deluxe , November 2, 2009 2:21 PM
    Let's be honest, downloading music via services like iTunes wouldn't have existed if it weren't for pirates. I may have downloaded music via "pirate sites" several years ago when the likes of Kazaa were doing the rounds. These days I pretty much always buy my music on iTunes. I'm happy to spend 99p on a DRM free single or £7.99 for a DRM free album via iTunes. In fact, I buy more singles now than I ever did as a teenager.
    For me its always been about availability and quality. MP3s or their equivalents are pretty much the same via pirate sites as they are via online stores. When it comes to Films, I'm happy to spend the money on a Bluray for the quality or wait for it to appear on the HD movie channels.
    However, as far as TV shows go, the pirates are way ahead of the game compared to commercial releases. Most TV shows take months to reach the UK after being shown in the US. A lot of them aren't even broadcast in HD. If a service such as iTunes offered TV shows to download in all English speaking countries as soon as they've aired in the US and would offer them in 720p for tops 49p per episode then we'd be talking.
Other Comments
  • 26 Hide
    ssalim , November 2, 2009 2:10 PM
    There you go, pirates actually help!
  • 29 Hide
    Avenger762 , November 2, 2009 2:14 PM
    If I like something that I've downloaded. I usually go out and buy it later. The retail version is usually better quality.
  • 10 Hide
    captaincharisma , November 2, 2009 2:15 PM
    the frame of mind these days i guess is they will download an album of a band and if they like it then they believe the artists deserves there money. not like back in days where you buy a CD and not being able to listen to all the tracks on it and then end up spending 20 bucks for a cd with 1 or 2 good songs on it
  • 25 Hide
    Spanky Deluxe , November 2, 2009 2:21 PM
    Let's be honest, downloading music via services like iTunes wouldn't have existed if it weren't for pirates. I may have downloaded music via "pirate sites" several years ago when the likes of Kazaa were doing the rounds. These days I pretty much always buy my music on iTunes. I'm happy to spend 99p on a DRM free single or £7.99 for a DRM free album via iTunes. In fact, I buy more singles now than I ever did as a teenager.
    For me its always been about availability and quality. MP3s or their equivalents are pretty much the same via pirate sites as they are via online stores. When it comes to Films, I'm happy to spend the money on a Bluray for the quality or wait for it to appear on the HD movie channels.
    However, as far as TV shows go, the pirates are way ahead of the game compared to commercial releases. Most TV shows take months to reach the UK after being shown in the US. A lot of them aren't even broadcast in HD. If a service such as iTunes offered TV shows to download in all English speaking countries as soon as they've aired in the US and would offer them in 720p for tops 49p per episode then we'd be talking.
  • 13 Hide
    deadlockedworld , November 2, 2009 2:24 PM
    I often learn of new music through file-sharing. I only purchase those that I like a lot. Honestly, thats probably a similar amount to what I would have purchased before--its just more premeditated.

    I think filesharing probably damages pop sales--because noone ever goes out to buy one-hit wonders after downloading the song. Serious artists shouldnt be worried by sales declines though. Yes the crazy pop CD buying heyday of the 90s is over--but the real music industry is not.
  • -1 Hide
    buddhav1 , November 2, 2009 2:32 PM
    this study is probably flawed, due to the fact that most people that Use P2P to download aren't downloading albums. they usually just get 1 or 2 songs. of the people that download albums, well, they're usually a bit more savvy with the internet, and tend to use torrents rather than a P2P service such as Limewire. so if this is a poll of those people, it makes sense, but with the majority of music pirates only wanting 1 or 2 songs off of an album, it's hard to really say.

    me, i used to download, but the tangible feeling of a CD in my hands is better than looking at a file on my computer and saying "i bought that"
  • 3 Hide
    joebob2000 , November 2, 2009 2:32 PM
    They will never get a good number out of this, unless they get an anonymized Itunes sale record (ip address hashed to MD5, total dollars spent) and cross that with a similar MediaSentry list with hashed address and number of suspected downloads...

    If the questions were all asked, in order, I am extremely suspicious of the results since most people who dont buy music but DO pirate are probably going to answer NO to both. The big story needs to be the effectiveness of the research method, not the alleged result. Getting people to admit to a crime in an informal poll isn't an easy or reliable thing.
  • 7 Hide
    bounty , November 2, 2009 2:35 PM
    There is more than one type of pirate. Some just leech and leech and leech. They copy anything they can just for the sake of having a copy. They are the type of people who have a multi-gig collection of country music... and hate country music.

    Then there are those who try before you buy. There are those that buy most of their music and only pirate hard to find songs etc. There are those who probably might have purchased something, but pirated it just to try it out and never get around to buying it. All kinds of different pirates.
  • 2 Hide
    ekopalm , November 2, 2009 2:35 PM
    I completely buy all my music. I guess I am a sucker. I probably spend at least 30 bucks a month between 99 cent singles and some albums. Even as I am DJ'ing. I will connect to the internet and download a requested track for 99 cents.
  • 4 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 2, 2009 2:37 PM
    I both purchase and pirate the music. I notice bands via p2p and then purchase their stuff. Since I don't watch tv (still running analog, and there's no analogue carrier in my country anymore) and don't have a radio I don't much notice new bands unless I happen to trip over em somewhere on the internet.
  • 2 Hide
    1pp1k10k4m1 , November 2, 2009 2:46 PM
    Yeah, I know personally when Napster and Kazaa were around I spent $0 on music. Now, I spend quite alot on music, and I'm happy to pay it for DRM free music; $1 isn't bad for a track. I think they should be about $.50, then I would buy like there was no tomorrow, but at least its DRM free now. That was a huge battle for pirates, and they made enough noise and won it. You think DRM free would have disappeared without pirates? Now, it is arguable whether or not they were the cause of it being DRM in the first place, but I generally think that was mostly due to companies that got greedy like Sony. But since then, Sony has blown the PS3 wide open with different things the PS3 can play (divX, mp3, wma, wmv, and many other file types). Plus, I can say alot of my other friends buy much more music too. Up until iTunes went DRM free, some had never bought a single song.

    @ LaughALot, I think its important to note that just because you don't see many retail covers doesn't mean they aren't buying music. They could be buying it through iTunes, which of course would not ship them a cd, it would be digital. Just sounds more like you don't trust your friends. And technically, you can buy music without getting a retail cover physical or digital. Example, one of my computer science professors buys ALL of his music...from Russia. He payed for it. He won't get a retail cover about 99.9% of the time. But digitally you could just download the cover from a simple google search. It's sometimes tough to tell the difference then...sometimes arguably impossible.
  • 3 Hide
    mitch074 , November 2, 2009 2:56 PM
    It's a matter of 'sample before you buy'. If you download a few tracks off an album and like it, you're more likely to go and buy said album, than if you never listen to it.

    At one time, you had radios to 'sample' an album: you'd hear some tracks, like them, then go and buy the album. Due to the fact that, now, radios are all calibrated to loop the same ten tracks all day long, radios are no longer the way to do that. Here comes downloading.

    I don't download much; those I download are more an accident than anything: the last album I bought, "Shimmer" by Fuel 238, was actually a track ripped off the album and used for an AMV. I liked it, I ordered the album. The same, I got a few tracks from Daft Punk's "Discovery" and found out that they were making an animated movie on that. Had I never downloaded these songs, I'd never even have known that these albums existed.

    And, I'd never have bought them if I hadn't downloaded stuff.

    Now, there are cheapos that won't buy a single song and spend their days downloading music. Guess what? That's what people did at the time with tape recorders: locate a friend with the CD or LP, hook your recorder with a blank tape, hit 'play/record', wait a while, done. Listen to tape in your Sony (tm) Walkman (tm).
  • 4 Hide
    maigo , November 2, 2009 2:57 PM
    It's not pirates that are doing the damage, it's the record labels that only want to screw artists. artists don't make a DIME till the second CD goes double platinum
  • 1 Hide
    nachowarrior , November 2, 2009 3:00 PM
    well noooo shit.
  • 0 Hide
    xaira , November 2, 2009 3:03 PM
    ive never paid for a single line of code in my life
  • 3 Hide
    littlec , November 2, 2009 3:05 PM
    I buy more if I can pirate it first to make sure it isn't crap, If its crap i delete it, If i like it I buy it.
  • 5 Hide
    dannyaa , November 2, 2009 3:11 PM
    parsifal57So because they buy some of the music they download they should be forgiven the majority of music they don't?Fine, I'll buy 1 DvD a month and download 10 per month and I'm good to go!What a ridiculous arguement. If the 'pirates' are just sampling the music to deterimine if they want to buy then they should listen to one of the many music streaming services or listen to samples on Amazon or other legitimate sites.


    that is not at all the argument. The survey is indicative that (at least THESE) pirates don't pirate to steal, they pirate to sample, and then buy what they like. If they were just doing it to save money, they'd likely spend little to nothing on real music. The fact that they spend so much while still pirating shows they intentionally support some artists, likely those they actually found to be worth the money. I think it's safe to say they are purchasing the good music that they initially pirated; NOT pirating some and purchasing others.
  • 1 Hide
    buwish , November 2, 2009 3:17 PM
    I admit that I like the setup of itunes and other sites that allows one to sample a track before buying it. However, the only improvement could be to be able to sample the entire song first. Sure, go a head and reduce the bitrate quality in the sample, but put the whole song up for sample. Then if they lowered their prices to something fair, say $0.75 or even lower, I'd buy more music. Small numbers tend to add up over time.
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