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File Sharing Research Supports Adaptation As Best Industry Reponse

FileSharing-StudyA recent study from a researcher at NC State University in Raleigh found connections between increased filesharing of leaked albums and increased sales of those albums. The findings were a bit limited but it correlates nicely with an overview of filesharing research conducted by Drew Wilson at ZeroPaid. Wilson took a close look at nineteen academic studies of filesharing that, taken as a whole, suggest industry adaptation may be the most productive path forward.

Response to research from NC State seemed a bit overly enthusiastic given the limits of the study by Robert G. Hammond:

"The results strongly suggest that an album benefits from increased file sharing: an album that became available in file-sharing networks one month earlier would sell 60 additional units. This increase is sales is small relativeto other factors that have been found to affect album sales. I conclude with an investigationof the distributional effects of file sharing on sales and find that file sharing benefits more established and popular artists but not newer and smaller artists."

Positive results for those who advocate treating filesharing as a form of marketing but not a big enough boost for a resounding victory on that front.

ZeroPaid's Drew Wilson has been looking closely at 19 similar studies from the last seven years. In addition to sharing his strongly articulated perspective, Wilson includes the links to the source which are sometimes held behind academic paywalls.

Wilson includes enough quotations from each source to make it clear that many of them do support strong copyright enforcement. But even the most ardent litigators also speak to adaptation with a focus on such responses as making music more readily available at a price that clearly takes into account digital production savings.

However, keep in mind that many of these studies were conducted before new streaming services such as Spotify, a wide range of web radio-licensed experiments and new ecommerce outlets such as Google Play emerged. So availability and pricing are showing some innovation.

Another positive approach is to maximize the marketing potential of filesharing networks as did Pretty Lights with BitTorrent.  Counting Crows took a more official route recently with a Featured BitTorrent Bundle.

Singer Adam Duritz seized the opportunity to build his tech profile with odes to BitTorrent and Twitter in tech media outlets.

Marketing benefits will clearly vary as creative responsives to new and sometimes unauthorized channels for music distribution.  But the primary lesson of all this research is to find that making music as widely available at a price seen as fair is key to maximizing music sales.

Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith blogs about business at Flux Research: Business Changes and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.