RIAA: 'Pirates Spend More On Music'

The RIAA has admitted that music pirates tend to spend more on music after it was revealed in a study last month, and makes a weak attempt to play down the findings. But the results pose new questions - join the debate here.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
21

The RIAA has admitted that music pirates are bigger music fans than non-pirates, and tend to spend more on music compared to normal consumers.

Last month, a study of US and German digital habits found that file-sharers buy 30% more music than other people, making them the music industry's best customers.

In an attempt to play down the study, the RIAA has now responded by saying this is only true because music pirates are more interested in music than the average consumer to begin with.

"In reality, the comparison is unfair what it's comparing is people who are interested in music with people who might not be interested at all. Of course people interested in music buy more," said Vice President of Research and Strategic Analysis Joshua Friedlander.

Torrent Freak ridicules their response, and notes that 18-35 year-old file-sharers typically spend 40% more than those who don't share at all. On average in 2011, they spend $267 compared to $191, suggesting that music pirates are more engaged in music and are more likely to attend gigs and buy t-shirts.

But it raises a more interesting question: Do engaged fans simply turn to pirating to satisfy their music tastes, or do they become engaged because they spend time discovering new acts? If you think you know the answer, join the debate in the comments.

31 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    jakeb1479
    I often pirate music to see if I will like it. In this economic climate, you cannot waste $15 on a crappy CD. If I like the album I will often buy the physical copy, and maybe go and support the band further by going to a show and buying merchandise.
    no_more_cheese
    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for supporting the artist buy purchasing their material. But I sure wish I had pirated a particular album instead of blowing 20 bucks on it *cough* St.Anger
    elcapitan1800
    The average pirater spends $267 on music a year? Shit, don't tell my bank account. I spent over $1000 on concert tickets this year alone, I don't even want to think about merch, vinyl, downloads, etc. And I pirate the shit out of music
    Kueller917
    "In reality, the comparison is unfair what it's comparing is people who are interested in music with people who might not be interested at all. Of course people interested in music buy more, " What are they trying to prove with that statement? People who pirate are usually more interested in music. And That's exactly what the study was saying, and they're basically admitting people who pirate will bring more money. Their argument against it was the argument for it. Face it RIAA, the numbers spoke against you and you can't even make up a good enough response to justify your tyrannical stance on file downloading.
    Drizzzle
    I have to listen to a record a few times before i buy it! Why should i buy a CD when i will never hear it? (It's like trying out if the new shoes will fit...) And YES i spend much money for music (CDs, tickets, merchandise...)
    baumaxx1
    They become engaged because they're finding lots of new stuff easily. Streaming is starting to win some money back for the musically adventurous pirates though,
    Smegal
    I am now going to disprove their return comment on their own research. 1 - They assume if people download music they are therefore "Interested" in music. While this may be true for many it is not for all. Someone could download a single album and be classified under that status, thus someone with little interested in music as a whole is not in fact a deciding scalar. 2 - Those not interested in music is once again a bad point. They assume that ALL people who buy music are not as interested in music, this is completely untrue as i have walked into many rooms with cd's filling multiple shelves and containers. They would not use people with ZERO music in their research because it is a non factor, people who do not buy or pirate music are not relational into their research thus dismissed without recording. Thus those who DO buy music are therefore interested in music in some way. 3 - Since BOTH of these fields have an unknown in both scale of interest and they try to dismiss it with their own assumptions not based on their research, they are therefore ignoring their own research to inject their opinion. Conclusion: They wanted to say pirates are a drain and found research to say otherwise. They cannot disprove their OWN research but they feel they have a responsibility to downplay piracy because of many reasons, the one i would assume if their fear this will lead to more piracy as it glorifies it. While it is justifiable that they will inject their opinion to negate this it is even more irresponsible to do so, both as men of research and as human beings.
    Voodoochile711
    Most probably do it to find new bands AND to satisfy their tastes. Regardless of how much they spend, though, you can't deny that it's still stealing (unless you pay for it later) and it does have an effect, however small that may be. And I'm totally not judging, btw; I've pirated so much music in the past.
    link no1
    Erm...Paying for it later doesn't mean it wasn't stealing. Pretty sure if I went to the local shop and walked out with a butt-load of goods shouting "I WILL PAY YOU LATER!!!" I would have the police knocking on my door soon after.
    abraxialflame
    But to steal, there has to be something TO steal. That's like arresting people for watching a movie on the display TV at the store. They stole nothing. There is nothing to steal. You can't be out anything if you are not taking a loss on a product. In this case, there was no product. You can't steal something that is not...there. Their whole argument is that those people WOULD have bought the CD or song otherwise, which is completely laughable.
    dial-a-death
    For me, a lot of it is that the music is damn hard to find. For example, the last thing I downloaded was Nazareth's Hair Of The Dog album. That's not something my local music store has, and it's a pain in the ass. There're so many great bands out there, a record store simply cannot stock enough for everyone's taste. The same goes for online retailers- sometimes albums just go out of print. For example, I tried to find a Coroner album a while back. The CHEAPEST I could find it was 50 (around $100). I'm not paying that much for 10 songs.
    KTbass
    what about making albums affordable? anyone thought of that??
    mysticguitar77
    They are getting cheaper. You can walk into a Best Buy right now and almost all of their CD's are $9.99, that's not bad and very affordable, FYE is also a lot cheaper than what they were a few years ago, their average is around $11.99 now for new and their used selection is $7.99 and below, not too shabby and the internet is even cheaper like ebay and Amazon where you can buy CD's for pennies (plus S&H of course, I once bought 10 CD's on Amazon and it was barely over $30 total). Album's are very affordable, just gotta know where to get them and do your research. CD's are not $17+ like they once were anymore.
    DrakeTheOne
    A band has a whole gets almost nothing for an album that bought. Most artists don't really care if you download their album from the internet because they wouldn't see they money anyway. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/2010071... Read this article. There's a chart that shows the breakdown of money flow for the music industry. "For Every $1000 sold the average musician gets $23.40" bands are getting raped by record labels. It doesn't matter if you buy that album. the only one who is really losing that money is the label. Going to shows, buying merch, and sharing that band's music with your friends so that they do the same is where bands really make their money.
    blackwingbat
    I never would have gotten into half the bands I enjoy if I hadn't used 'unsavoury' sites to acquire their material for free. The ridiculous amount of stuff that isn't available on YouTube (especially if you live anywhere but the US or UK) makes the site useless for that purpose. Two major artists that come to mind who have huge swaths of the their library missing from streaming sites are Rodrigo y Gabriela and Howlin' Wolf, but many more obscure bands are completely absent. On the other hand, the music-focused torrent communities have nearly every obscure artist/album I've been otherwise unable to dig up. Not to mention streaming services earn artists next to nothing, making them barely better than piracy. In my opinion it's ethically worse, because if the artist doesn't earn money from their work, then the streaming services and labels deserve nothing as well. Any time I have free cash I spend it on live shows, albums, and merch. Spent at least $300 on music this year, which is more than I've spent on any other unnecessary expense. It's not much, but I'm pretty broke. That lack of cash is another reason piracy helps. I could never afford a monthly fee for a streaming service or to spend ~$10 to buy half the albums I've listened to. I buy the ones that I feel deserve my money, and thus support the artists I feel deserve it. It's preferably to spending money on an album only to find out it's complete shit and some ***** is making money off it. That was a lot of ranting that missed the question. "Do engaged fans simply turn to pirating to satisfy their music tastes, or do they become engaged because they spend time discovering new acts?" My answer is both, but the latter is more common in my experience.
    Phaustho
    I download a lot of music. The thing is, when it comes to my favorite bands, sometimes I feel "guilty" if I don't buy their music. For example, I love a band called Oceansize. I only listen to their albums if I buy them first. There's an exception to this rule, and I actually feel guilty for not having a physical copy of that album. With Radiohead it's different. I bought all their CDs until In Rainbows. I don't like TKOL, so I haven't bought it. Also, now that they're not signed with EMI, I wouldn't buy new Radiohead releases from EMI because I wouldn't be really "paying the band for their music". I'm weird XD But hey, that's what the article is about: pirates like me download loads of music, but still spend a lot of cash in albums, tickets, merch...
    USCENDONE BENE
    Downloading a pirate copy online and then going out and buying the album or seeing the artist in concert is way better than using streaming services - check this out http://pitchfork.com/features/articles/8... Over 7,000 plays on pandora for this one artist earned them a grand total of 21 cents. HOW IS THIS BETTER FOR ARTISTS?!
    vinnym86
    I spent close to $1,500 on concerts last year (when you factor in ticket price, gas/tolls/parking, food/beer, tour merch) I keep a google-docs of all my shows and how much I spent. I torrent.
    Steyr9001
    Question: Do engaged fans simply turn to pirating to satisfy their music tastes, or do they become engaged because they spend time discovering new acts? Answer: Both. Isn't really all that complicated of an answer, to be honest.
    RoboHendrix
    A band will see more money from a couple hundred bucks spent on their gig/merch than on their CD, piracy is just a way of finding new music... back in the day, they had record stores and the radio had shows that showcased new music, now we have the internet, where we can discover new music until we're literally sick of it.
    fleaonnj4
    I've pirated music before, and I've bought music before. I'm not defending my pirating ways, I know it's illegal, I just simply can't afford my extensive tastes in music any other way. One I thing I don't do though is try and justify my actions by saying "oh they're already rich" or "I'm just listening to it before I buy it". If you can't find it on youtube or bandcamp or some other free streaming site, you're lying. I don't care how much more money you spend on music then others, man up and admit it's stealing, stop trying to make your selves feel better.
    guitarist41
    I used to download some songs, and it only led to me buying albums that I otherwise wouldn't have bought. File sharing must play a huge part in the current decline of the music industry though. Still, it's sad that so many people get into music to become millionaires, rather than making music for the sake of music.
    diablo9333
    I'm tired of all this piracy "is it right?" bullshit. For starters, just because a website allows downloads by the way of a torrent website in no means makes it stealing. Here is an example. If someone wanted to post their free hiphop mix tape or if a Youtube user wanted to upload their videos to make them available for download. Let me remind people that CD's don't last forever and USB sticks and Hard Drives can fail. Lately I have been pirating old games that I lost the disks and/or serial keys to.
    chazzyfresh33
    don't forget that Apple's iTunes Match essentially made piracy ok. as long as the song matches with what they have on file, you've got yourself a legit high quality copy of the song.
    dudebud
    Pirates would also spend more money if they weren't able to pirate.
    Kueller917
    I know a lot of albums I would've never bought had I never heard it through some non-official method (downloading or streaming through YouTube or even copied from a friend)