For a long time the music industry was convinced the only way to protect their sales and digital tracks from pirates was to ladle in loads of DRM. DRM caused issues for music fans, preventing them from listening to their music on any device they wanted. Over time, DRM has been slowly phased out as it proved unable to stop piracy.
A new report indicates that as DRM has been removed from digital music, sales have increased significantly in some instances. Four major labels digital sales were tallied, and after removing DRM from their content sales went up 10%. The effect was even more significant for older “long tail” content.
Long tail content is music that has been out for a while and sells fewer than 25000 copies. When DRM was removed from the long tail content, sales reportedly increased by 41%. Lower selling albums overall saw a sales bump of 30%.
The research was completed by researcher Laurina Zhang from the University of Toronto. In her research, Zhang looked at 5864 albums from 634 artists and compared sales figures before and after the labels removed DRM. One interesting fact is that Zhang found removing DRM from popular top selling albums had no effect on sales. Book publisher Tor found in May that removing DRM from its digital books didn’t increase piracy.