Stop us if you’ve heard this one… actually don’t because you’ve probably have. A new study shows that file-sharers do, in fact, pay more on content then non-file-sharers.
We’ve all heard of this. Big content screaming bloody murder saying file-sharers are killing the entertainment industry because they aren’t paying for their content. Unfortunately for the entertainment industry, a growing body of evidence points to the exact opposite. A study (PDF) by the University of Amsterdam entitled “Legal, Economic and Cultural Aspects of File Sharing” sought to answer a few interesting questions including the purchasing habits of file-sharers and the results were quite interesting. One interesting finding was file-sharing as it relates to music:
Buying and file sharing turn out to go hand in hand. Music sharers are as equally likely to buy music as other people: 68% of file sharers also purchase music. File sharers buy as much music as non-file sharers. However, file sharers spend more money on merchandise and go to concerts significantly more frequently.
This does go along nicely with the general wisdom that file-sharing either has a negligible effect on the music industry or a positive effect on music. The rule I personally use is this: The biggest users of content are also the biggest spenders of content. File-sharers are often the biggest users of content. Therefore, File-sharers are often the biggest spenders of content. While it sounds like a rather simplistic way of viewing such a complicated matter, it’s also very true as well.
The study also goes in to other sides of content as well. For instance, movies:
As for films, file sharers turn out to buy significantly more DVDs than nonfile sharers. On average, file sharers and non-file sharers go to the cinema equally often.
Game sharers also buy games, and significantly more frequently too: 67% of file sharers are buyers as well. And if they buy, they buy significantly more games than non-file sharers.
The study goes in to detail about the motives of file-sharers buying content which really seems to go along with what many file-sharers have been saying all along:
Among file sharers, 63% of music downloaders might yet buy the music they first got for free online. Their main reasons for buying are loving the music – a key motive for over 80% – or wishing to support the artist (over 50%). Owning the CD sleeve and booklet are mentioned by a third of eventual buyers, as well as the higher quality of the CD. Forty-eight per cent of film sharers will buy a previously downloaded film at a later date, citing such reasons as liking it a lot or wanting the extra features the DVD offers.
This is more than likely great news for those involved in the scene as well because many NFOs have comments saying things like, “If you like what is being released, go out and buy it. [content producers] need your support too!” or the simple, “Try before you buy!” Those scene notices are, in fact, working if they needed to be used.
Is this a one-off incident of a study that just happens to somehow come up with this conclusion or is this part of a growing body of evidence? The answer is the latter. Late last year, a poll in the UK conducted by Ipsos had a similar conclusion saying that file-sharers buy more music.
Earlier last year, another study conducted by the BI Norwegian School of Management concluded that music pirates buy ten times more music then they download.
In 2007, yet another study conducted by Industry Canada (an arm for the Canadian government) found that file-sharing increases music sales.
If four studies were good, how about a fifth. in 2006, a study by Connectus Consulting tried showing that file-sharing has had a significant negative impact on music sales in Canada. When going through the evidence, they ended up showing that the music industry has been steadily growing in the face of file-sharing.
So not only is this latest study showing an interesting trend, it appears that the study is a confirmation of a re-confirmation of a re-confirmation of a re-confirmation of a re-confirmation that shows that there is a positive impact to file-sharing. If you ever wanted any further evidence that big content is crying all the way to the bank, this would be it.