Wednesday, June 18, 2008

BMR Music Survey

It was only yesterday that I was looking through all the articles I have collected on file sharing statistics and thinking that it had been some time since a survey had been conducted specifically highlighting the music sharing behaviour of people across age groups. Then last night I read of the British Music Rights ‘Music Experience and Behaviour in Young People’ survey. This is certainly worth a look and provides an excellent insight into the music buying and sharing habits of 773 people and covers the age groups of 14-17, 18-24 and 25+.

Some of the more interesting conclusions include that there are two aspects to a listeners relationship with music – the first being the emotional attachment they have to the music and the artists, and the second being the desire to explore and experiment with new music. Other aspects of the findings are unsurprising, particularly the suggestion that sharing and copying are culturally endemic and that much of the value associated with music is currently unmonetised.

Here is a breakdown of some of the results:
  • Sixty percent of the money each person spent was on music was in relation to concerts (scarce goods) with forty percent being spent on recorded music (non scarce goods).
  • A very small percentage of people said they spent money on subscription services with CDs, digital downloads and second hand music all being more popular.
  • The average mp3 collection consisted of 1770.98 tracks but it is not clear whether this includes or is separate from the average CD collection reported later in the survey as being around 100 CDs.
  • If going to a desert island (presumably one with power) 73% suggested they would take their music collection .

Statistics specifically relating to downloading music include:

  • Sixty three percent of respondents download music illegally and on average this equates to 53 tracks per month.
  • The top three reasons for downloading include because it is free; to find rare or unreleased material; and to try before purchasing.
  • Just over twenty percent of those that download refuse to upload (leeching) but the reasons given don’t make a lot of sense – the most common reason was fear of a virus, security risk or because of pop-ups.
  • The reasons given for uploading reflect what Lawrence Lessig refers to as ‘social norms’ – the vast majority of up loaders (around 70%) do so because they wish to return the favour to others.
  • Eighty percent of respondents expressed support for a legal file-sharing service.

Overall fifty six percent of respondents suggested that companies who profit by allowing others to share music should pay a music license – presumably this refers to file sharing services however no information is given as to whether respondents thought that these companies were failing to seek these licenses (Limewire, Kazaa, eDonkey, the original Napster and others have all sought reasonable licensing terms from the record labels). Ninety percent of respondents said that this money should go to composers, musicians and performers with no mention of record labels (who are actually more commonly the copyright holders).

There are also some interesting statistics relating to copyright awareness, perceptions of legality and sources of information on the law which provide interesting reading.

Whilst certainly indicative of the general population and a reasonable sample size, the report issued does not provide raw data, details of the questions asked or methodology which would aid in its comprehension. Nonetheless it does provide a detailed illustration of the consumption and exposure to music of the average British citizen.

Further Reading
British Music Rights, Music Experience and Behaviour in Young People: Main Findings and Conclusions (Spring 2008) <> at 18 June 2008

ArsTechnica, Survey: young people happy to pay for music—on their terms (16 June 2008) <> at 18 June 2008

The Register, 80% want legal P2P - survey (16 June 2008) <> at 17 June 2008

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