Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Pirate Downloads

Study finds pirates spend 30% more on music than non-sharers

Alex Masters
pirate 300x225 Study finds pirates spend 30% more on music than non sharersThe American Assembly, a Columbia University affiliated public policy forum, has posted some surprising results about online music purchases by internet file-sharers. Their studies have found that US and German file-sharers spend around 30 per cent more on legitimate online music purchases than users who do not pirate music via the internet.

Copied from Drudge Report.
This is a subject I've discussed with both film and TV producers and Music producers - and my argument, based purely on my own habits, is in line with what this finding shows.

I really didn't buy much music at all until 2000. I bought lots of films and TV episodes, but music was on the radio and I had a collection that had twice been outdated by new technology - as a kid I spent lots on vinyl and cassettes - all of which were donated to the charity shop or hit the bin when DVDs came out.

But then I discovered Kazzar, and Emule and others while I lived in Indonesia, Poland and Russia. I went download crazy - because who's going to prosecute an IP address from one of those countries? 
The book that sat in the bookshop window in Moscow when I lived there from 2002 until 2004 was Гэри рысака. (Gary Trotter) He was a blonde haired bespectacled kid who didn't know he was a wizard and ended up going to wizard school at a place called Woghorts - or something equally ridiculous. I read somewhere that J K Rowling and her team have been trying to sue the Russian publishers for years - but of course they can't get any satisfaction.
So I didn't have much fear of the download and I built up a decent collection. I downloaded all the music I had spent my life savings to collect twice already as a kid, only to see the technology become obsolete. And because of this I felt no guilt whatsoever. I downloaded new artists and searched for anyone I heard that I liked. Then a funny thing happened - artists that I found online, that I illegally downloaded - I fell in love with and eagerly bought their DVD or online download to get the best quality recording possible.
My argument was always how is this any different to the way radio works in the promoting of artists? Rather than listening to a radio station filled with ads that create revenue for the station, the artists can be found online in a direct plug to the listening audience who will then decide if they'll buy or not.
I've never understood why this isn't understood by the artists. Why don't they release the cheaper version online for free wherever they can. Some artists use to release tracks that had a pulsar sound recurring through it once every 30 seconds or so, others released half the song or a shorter version.
These days I listen to most things via hosted sights like vevo or youtube and make up my mind whether to buy from there. Of course, if something needs to be heard a few times I am happy to still convert and add to my library - but if the song does become a favourite - I am quick to pay money to get the best version possible into my collection.

As for Film and TV - I make a point to never download a movie. A movie is something you generally look at once and then move on so there's no try before you buy here. I do read a lot of reviews and I have trusted reviewers who usually let me know if it's something I'll like or not. 
But TV is a completely different story, especially in Australia where our isolation means the TV stations treat viewers with contempt because the majority of people have never been overseas to live and experience a better service. Some shows like Matt Le blancs fantastic Episodes arrives on screen well over a year after he won the Emmy for best comedy performance. Other shows get moved around in timeslots and almost all shows run late and make taping the episodes you're not home for impossible. Then the stations complain because the audience is dissipating. Is it any wonder? And all I need is the flimsiest excuse to jump on line and get my favourite shows days after they air for the first time - and the Australian TV networks very rarely fail to supply this excuse for me.
And even here the original idea holds true - for shows that I like or love online, that I happen to see on network TV at a later date, I will almost always stop and watch over other choices because I know it's something I enjoy.
So I guess my message to the download police is lighten up. Use downloading as a tool to advertise, find a way to imbed ads, make full screen viewing without pay impossible and see an online availability as the ultimate preview to the product. And don't go complaining when people don't fork out cash for that product later - they would have if they liked it better. The days of being able to sell bad products from one good promo, one good episode or one good song in a career of otherwise mediocre B side fair is well and truly over. 
This is the age of choice and the try before you buy consumers. You can't keep expecting us to simply buy the same creative product over and over again.

Bieber            Donny Osmond       Bieber           Ricky Nelson

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