Almost everybody pirates music. Most of them would pay for it

Interesting numbers from a British Music Rights-funded study of 14-to-24-year-olds’ music consumption:

A full 95% said they’d copied music in some way or another at one time or another.

And 80% would pay for a legal subscription-based music service that would allow them to discover, swap and recommend music.

BMR’s Feargal Sharkey – yep, him from The Undertones – states the obvious.

First and foremost, it is quite clear that this young and tech-savvy demographic is as crazy about and engaged with music as any previous generation. Contrary to popular belief, they are also prepared to pay for it too. But only if offered the services they want. That message comes through loud and clear.

But the BPI’s rather weird response to a piece by BBC journalist Bill Thompson suggests that the message isn’t being heard by the record companies. No Rock ‘n’ Roll Fun does a typically excellent fisking of their press release, which [IMO] is a rather nasty attack by the BPI that, by design or by accident, misses the point of the original piece (which XRRF links to as well).

[BPI: Music companies are radically re-inventing their business models in response to changes in how music fans want to access music online.] Music companies have been forced to reinvent their business models faced with a changed world – but not in a way they can take any pride in, as they did everything to avoid getting to that point. And they’re still not trying to respond to how fans want to access music – unlimited, everywhere, for a fair price – as they’re still hobbling files, striking exclusive deals, locking formats, trying to find ways to gouge customers. Has any fan ever said “hey, you know what I really want? A music collection that I have to pay for every month or it’ll just disappear?” I suspect not.

What we have here is a situation where copyright owners simply aren’t meeting consumer demand, because they’re stuck in the mindset of what works for them, not the consumers. The internet gives the consumers the power, and the challenge for the music business is to find a way to make money from giving people what they want.

The best example of old-style music business attitudes I can think of is U2 manager Paul McGuinness, who pronounced Radiohead’s In Rainbows a failure because it was being pirated. Never mind that it generated a storm of publicity or that the album reached number one in the album charts; the fact that the free download ended up on torrents did Radiohead a favour. Delivering huge numbers of direct downloads isn’t cheap, and everybody who torrented In Rainbows saved Radiohead a few pennies on their server bills. So by torrenting the album, the pirates saved Radiohead money. Bloody pirates!