Illegal Downloaders Do Spend More Money on Music

The London-based think tank Demos has concluded that illegal downloaders spend more money on music. The headline figure, based on the survey of over 1000 people between 16 and 65, is that the average spend per annum on CDs or vinyl was £75 (GBP) for file-sharers compared with only £51 for all surveyed.

The notion that illegal downloaders actually spend more money on music has always had its supporters but it’s good to see that this can now be backed up with some hard data, at least for the UK. However, there’s some much more juicy information, but remember that this is representative sample of the online population, not the whole population and not just music aficionados or games players.

69% of those questioned had used official or legal sources for music such as iTunes or YouTube. Physical media still dominates purchasing with 65% having bought CDs or vinyl against 33% who purchased downloadable music.

A third had used peer-to-peer technology or search engines to find free music but only 9% actually confessed to illegal downloading. Almost everyone knew that sharing purchased music was not “fair use” but 81% of people who had purchased their music thought that “fair use” should include the ability to move the music between different players easily.

47% would be interested in a monthly subscription service with the optimum price point being £5 per month but it would have to be simple and convenient to use.

There is only a slight male bias of 57%:43% in illegal music downloading (which is far less than I would have expected) and 46% gave “because I can” as a reason for doing it. (I think in the old days, this would’ve been known as “troughing”).  Unsurprisingly, two thirds of this group also engaged in the illegal downloading of movies, games and other software.

The full “Digital Music Survey” is available to download from the Demos website and it’s a fascinating read into the state of music consumption.  Recommended.

Note for readers – as far as I’m aware and I’m not a lawyer, the UK does not currently have a “fair use” provision in its copyright legislation.