Sharing Music Helps Smaller Bands Except on BBC

By May 15, 2009

A BBC article Thursday published research by industry body PRS for Music, the British music royalty collection agency, which concluded that pirated pop keeps stars popular. Further, the study found "little evidence that file-sharing sites helped unsigned and new bands find an audience." Venturing that the huge amount of music available on the Internet would lead to new models of distribution, the authors pursued the "Long Tail" argument: "If you offer people more choice, and help them make that choice, they will take that choice." If so, the music industry should focus on promoting the multitudes of smaller bands. The study found that file-sharing site behavior mirrors legitimate music sites - no sign of the Long Tail. Much of the activity volume was concentrated amongst a small proportion of available tracks.

Claimed reason is too much choice on peer-to-peer sites. No "pirate network" big hit that was not a licensed big hit. P2P sites reinforce the music divisions, making more successful what is already more popular, BBC shares.

Besides an ambiguous use of the term "file-sharing sites" to describe torrent file tracking sites, presumably, there are more problems with the PRS findings that TorrentFreak points out.

People only pay for what they know they want, but if music is free they download what they see in the media, what their friends listen too, and possibly also to bands that they have never heard before. This makes sense since there is no risk of wasting money on bad tracks.

In contrast to BBC and PRS, TorrentFreak referenced's music tracker. This shows the most downloaded album to be an unsigned artist compilation, and the second album from The Flashbulb to have ten times the downloads as Britney Spears' Greatest Hits.

Also, Rob Costlow, an early adopter of music sharing Web site Jamendo, told TorrentFreak that he makes his living as a musician because of  the free music model. TF remarks that despite popular music downloads, file-sharing can allow new artists to emerge.

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