The recording industry may loathe users who illegally download free music using peer-to-peer technologies such as BitTorrent, but it turns out that these music thieves are also the industry’s best customers. Per TorrentFreak, a new survey conducted by the American Assembly non-partisan public affairs forum shows that while P2P users do download a lot more free music from the web than non-P2P users, they also buy a lot more music through legitimate venues as well.
The survey asked users to estimate their total music collections and then estimate the number of songs that they had paid for as well as the number that they had downloaded for free or copied from friends and family. The results show that P2P users have much larger collections overall, as American P2P users have an average of 1,979 music files while German P2P users had an average of 3,917 files. For comparison, non-P2P users in the United States had 1,264 files on average while German non-P2P users had an average of 627.
And because P2P users have larger collections than non-P2P users, they also buy more music: American P2P users bought an average of 760 files, versus an average of 582 files for non-P2P American users, while German P2P users bought an average of 1,034 files, versus an average of 376 for non-P2P German users.
And this is the essential paradox that the music industry has to deal with when it tries to crack down on Internet piracy: How can it lower the instances of copyright infringement without angering the same people who send it more money than anyone else?