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File-Sharers Buy 30% More Music Than Non-Sharers [STUDY]

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While intuitively it makes sense to believe that music pirates are largely out to hoard large collections of free content, a comprehensive new study reveals that file-sharers in the United States tend to purchase more music than non-file-sharers. The findings come from a new report entitled "Copy Culture in the USA and Germany," conducted by The American Assembly – a non-partisan public affairs forum affiliated with Columbia University. Their findings indicate that file-sharers actually purchase 30% more music, contradicting major label and RIAA wisdom of piracy being “devastating” for music sales.

To collect their data, the group conducted thousands of telephone interviews throughout the United States and Germany to catch a glimpse into the sharing habits of both countries. They found that the average music file collection in the United States now stands at 1,444 songs. As one might expect, file-sharers in the U.S. were found to have approximately 37% larger music collections than non-file-sharers.

“Most of the difference comes from higher levels of ‘downloading for free’ and ‘copying from friends/family’,” wrote American Assembly’s Joe Karaganis. “Some of it also comes from significantly higher legal purchases of digital music than their non-P2P using peers–around 30% higher among US P2P users. Our data is quite clear on this point and lines up with numerous other studies: The biggest music pirates are also the biggest spenders on recorded music.”

The group’s research also found that the ripping of CDs and offline file sharing among friends accounts for a higher percentage of people’s music collection than P2P file sharing does across all age groups.

While these findings may come as a bit of a surprise to the folks at the major labels and the RIAA, it’s been seen through numerous studies that file-sharers tend to be those users who are most passionate about music and constantly seek to consume and discover as much new music as they possibly can. The use of file-sharing networks is simply their most straightforward and convenient way to do so.

Hisham Dahud is a Senior Analyst for Additionally, he is the head of Business Development for Fame House and an independent musician. Follow him on Twitter: @HishamDahud