British survey findings on young people's music ownership show that teenagers and students have an average of more than 800 illegally copied songs each on their digital music players.
Here is an excerpt: The research also showed that half of 14 to 24-year-olds were happy to share all the music on their hard drive, enabling others to copy hundreds, or thousands, of songs at any one time. Although illegal copying has become widespread, the scale of the problem uncovered by the University of Hertfordshire left the music industry surprised. On average every iPod or digital music player contained 842 illegally copied songs. Fergal Sharkey, former lead singer of the Undertones and now chief executive of British Music Rights, said: “I was one of those people who went around the back of the bike shed with songs I had taped off the radio the night before. But this totally dwarfs that, and anything we expected.”
I don’t see what there is to be surprised about. Even if the entertainment industry’s scare tactics (lawsuits) have moved file-sharing traffic away from major P2P sites to smaller sites and various torrents, the overall volume of sharing might still be high. Besides, free copynorms among young people are not going away. My own study on the interaction between deterrence and copynorms shows that scare tactics may strengthen pro-copy norms among file-sharers. This new study shows just how much portable storage capacity boosted off line sharing.
Btw, I don’t see how the subscription business model, as suggested in the Times article, has any real promise for the sale of music. Sure, it is closer to the sharing/all you can eat buffet model of P2P, but for every one subscription many more individuals will get free access to the non-networked sharing that the survey evidences.
As it is developing now, the future of the music industry is more vertically integrated. A business model where the music companies make its profits by acting as talent agent of the artist as such, relying much more on profits from non-rival goods such as concerts, advertising, non-digital merchandise. Early reflections on this appeared in Raymond Ku’s excellent article on the creative destruction of copyright.