A lot of people think that file sharers and other Bittorrent downloaders never pay for music or other forms of digital media. It’s an understandable stereotype, but according to a study, it’s not all true. It turns out that file sharers actually buy 30% more music than those who don’t download content illegally.
You’ve probably heard the gripe from multiple music labels about how piracy is translating to billions of dollars of lost revenue, citing that the more people who illegally download content, the less likely they are to buy the content. However, the American Assembly, which is a non-partisan public policy forum affiliated with Columbia University, published part of its upcoming Copy Culture Survey that sheds a little light on this “issue.”
The study focuses on the digital music collections of different users and how they obtained the music in their collection. The study found that not only do file sharers have larger music collections compared to others (predictably so), but file sharers also buy more music legally than those who don’t illegally download.
The explanation for this isn’t too tricky. A lot of file sharers use Bittorrent and P2P services as a way to sample music first and then decide if they want to buy a certain song or album. It’s a pretty solid system, and the study even says a lot of the music that users get for free simply come from friends through physical media as well — such as borrowing a CD and ripping the files to your computer.