Nielsen: ‘Consumers Who Engage In Piracy Will Download More Music More Often…’

Looks like the major labels have another study to go discredit.  Just days after researchers from the European Commission found that illegal downloading has little impact on industry revenues and could be boosting digital sales, Nielsen has jumped in with corroborating information.

Specifically, Nielsen found that pirates are generally more engaged music fans.  They download more stuff than those playing by the rules.  And just maybe, buy more stuff.

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The finding was very briefly presented by Nielsen Music, North America executive Vanessa Thomas during Canadian Music Week in Toronto.  And, it definitely wasn’t the focus of a broader presentation on recorded music sales, Canadian artist sales, and other stats-heavy slides.  But Nielsen, as part of its 360-degree research initiative, has unearthed some interesting stats that go beyond number-counting.

 

So if consumers who engage in piracy download more music than non-pirates, do they actually buy more music?  We’re waiting for that answer from Nielsen right now.

81 Responses

  1. Visitor
    Visitor

    Yes, people who are interested in music steal more music than people who are not interested in music.
    Strange, huh?
    And I’m sorry to repeat myself, but here are the facts:
    The price of piracy
    10 billion Euros and 185,000 European jobs in 2008.
    Source:
    http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=40884&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
    58 billion dollars and 373,000 American jobs in 2007.
    Source:
    Siwek, Stephen E.,The True Cost of Piracy to the U.S. Economy, report for the Institute for Policy Innovation, Oct. 2007.

    Reply
          • Visitor
            Visitor

            Fact or not, 5 yrs and 6 yrs is a long time in the digital age. Do you have facts from 2012/13?

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “5 yrs and 6 yrs is a long time in the digital age”
            Correct, everything suddenly changed in 2009:
            Music sales continued to decrease while piracy increased as usual — but without any financial losses.
            “Wir don’t know what happened,” Ernesto from TorrentReek.com explains. “It’s like ein Mirakel.”

    • GGG
      GGG

      Ugh…you again….
      Look, the music industry has been shrinking for a long time now. And yes a lot of that is thanks to piracy. But you’re being a bit naive to think every single one of those lost dollars and jobs is due exclusively to piracy. Long gone are the days when a hit song meant 2M $18.95 CD sales. A lot of those jobs would still be lost if digital numbers were better than they were now. Many companies, from labels to brick and mortar were huge because they had the financial resources to be. That just isnt’ true anymore and not ALL of it is due to piracy.
      There should also be studies to look at the growth of some aspects due to the massive changes in the industry, specifically around piracy. I think the festival scene is in large part growing so much in America because people actually know a ton of the acts because they *gasp* pirated their music. The entire indie sector owes a large part of their growth and success to illegal downloading.

      Reply
      • Visitor
        Visitor

        “you’re being a bit naive to think every single one of those lost dollars and jobs is due exclusively to piracy”
        Not sure what you mean, I was not involved in any of the studies.
        The facts you’re referring to — 10 billion Euros/185,000 European jobs/58 billion dollars/373,000 American job lost to piracy — were published by UNESCO, International Chamber of Commerce and Institute for Policy Innovation.

        Reply
        • GGG
          GGG

          I know you weren’t. What I mean is lack of sales isn’t necessarily always because of pirates. If Artist X sold 500K digital albums and was pirated 500K times, that does not mean they would have sold 1M dls if piracy didn’t exist. They like to tell themselves that to make themselves feel better, and you like to spout that speculation as truth, but it’s entirely unproveable.
          The fact is the public rebelled against overrpiced CDs. Even if everyone bought $10 DLs, companies still would have had to downsize. They took a huge loss no matter what, switching to digital.

          Reply
          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “The fact is the public rebelled against overrpiced CDs”
            Of course not.
            Potential criminals began to steal music because it didn’t have any consequences.
            But all that’s changing now…

          • GGG
            GGG

            Uh…and why did they steal? Because they wanted to consume much more music than they could afford. Ridiculous how much you miss or choose to ignore.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “Uh…and why did they steal?”
            But I just told you:
            Because they could!
            They would also steal your car if they could.

          • GGG
            GGG

            Yes. They could. AND because people didn’t/don’t want to be limited by their wallets. And I understand the slippery slope of that statement when you start comparing it other things, but I’m only talking about music. Metaphors don’t work, as we already saw with your failed car example.
            SHOULD people pay for music? Of course. But continuing this fight against piracy by lawsuits and shutdowns and other forms of intimidation is not the way to do it. Spotify is a good (maybe not yet) alternative. Needs time to grow though, for sure.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “Downloading isn’t stealing.”
            Oh dear, a good old torrentfreak! How absolutely charming. 🙂
            You may keep your car.
            Please share your credit card information. You may keep the plastic.

  2. Audio Texture
    Audio Texture

    It would be interesting to get some backdated figures on teen/young adult allocated % of entertainment spend on music. As a 43 year old, in my teen years I reckon my music spending was probably around 20-70% of my income depending on the period.
    Anyone got access?

    Reply
  3. of course
    of course

    it seems obvious the most engaged music fan is going to be the biggest pirate and the biggest consumer.
    but take away his ability to steal, and he’ll actually PAY for more music, because his music love doesn’t disappear, only his stealing capability.
    freetards always argue that the illegal downloads leads to more legal buying, justifying the “promotional” benefits of pirating. but of course, if the album already stolen, why would someone then go buy it?

    Reply
    • jw
      jw

      For me to purchase a record without hearing it first, it would have to be an enthusiastic recommendation from one of maybe three or four people. Otherwise, I have to hear it first, especially with new artists.
      I bought 3 records last week that I already had downloaded, & that’s generally the case when I buy music, & I buy a good bit of music. I think it’s clear that you don’t understand modern consumer behavior… what you’re describing is the casual music fan (I downloaded it, why would I buy it?), what’s being discussed is the ardent music fan (I’m going to buy music regardless, but I’m going to have to hear it before I pay for it because otherwise I could be spending my money on something better).

      Reply
      • Visitor
        Visitor

        “I bought 3 records last week that I already had downloaded”
        jw, you have every right to fight for your pro-pirate beliefs.
        But do you also actually steal music?
        If not, what did you mean by ‘downloaded’?
        At any rate, everybody can pre-listen to 90 seconds before purchase so there’s zero excuse for stealing tracks.

        Reply
        • jw
          jw

          Generally I do my discovery listening on Spotify Premium, but this particular label doesn’t put music on Spotify. If I recall correctly, I downloaded these songs off of Soundcloud (probably using my browser’s inspector to save the 128kbps source), & I imported them into Spotify as local files. They were actually 45s, so there was only 6 tracks total.
          I have tons & tons of tracks loaded into Spotify playlists that I listen to a lot before I make a purchase. I actually tried to buy a forth 45 that came out 3 years ago, but they were sold out. 45s are a unique case, too, because it requires so much more effort to listen to them. I’m not going to buy a 45 based on a few listens, & I’ll never do more than a few listens in Soundcloud because it doesn’t integrate into my listening habits. And I would never in a million years buy a 45 based on a 90 second sample.
          Would a label sign a band based on a 90 second sample? Would a promotor book a band based on a 90 second sample? I will ignore a song completely before I listen to a 90 second sample, unless it’s a song I haven’t heard by a band that I already love. The 90 second thing is totally the product of licensing negotiations. Real music fans don’t listen to 90 second samples.
          How many songs have you bought based on 90 second samples?

          Reply
          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “Generally I do my discovery listening on Spotify Premium, but this particular label doesn’t put music on Spotify. If I recall correctly, I downloaded these songs off of Soundcloud”
            Cool, jw!
            You don’t steal music — and you told the rest of us why we don’t have to, either:
            Because there are tons of legal ways to try it on before you buy it!
            And you didn’t even mention the most used source: YouTube.
            Would a label sign a band based on a 90 second sample?
            Here’s how it works:
            Any pro can tell you if a song’s a hit or not from 5-15 seconds! If you’re not hooked by then, fuhgeddaboudit…
            Most consumers make up their minds in 20-30 seconds (or considerably less).
            As for 90 seconds…

          • jw
            jw

            That’s not true. No one can tell if a song is a hit or not in 5-15 seconds. That’s just something execs said in the 90’s when they were blowing smoke up their own ass.
            Consumers make up their minds in 20-30 seconds? Then why do radio stations have to play the same songs over & over & over to create sales? That’s just wrong. You can’t go around making up facts like that.
            Save your bullshit for someone else.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “No one can tell if a song is a hit or not in 5-15 seconds”
            It’s done all the time. You’ve got 15 secs, every writer knows it…

          • jw
            jw

            You’re drinking the kool-aid, man. “It’s done all of the time.” Evidently not. Have you looked at sales lately?
            I can give you a list 10 miles long of some of the best songs ever written that some pro taste maker asswhipe would’ve written off in the first 5-15 seconds. We’ll start with Stairway to Heaven, one of the most beloved songs in all of rock & roll. One of the most played songs on radio. Was never a single.
            Again, we’re talking about consumers who listen to songs passively, & might buy Gangnam Style & a couple of other huge hits per year versus real music fans who don’t buy into the first 5-15 seconds. You’re just clueless about that consumer, & all of the data is saying these are the real spenders.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “I can give you a list 10 miles long of some of the best songs ever written that some pro taste maker asswhipe would’ve written off in the first 5-15 seconds.”
            Hm, why do I get the idea that you wrote one of these wonderful songs? 🙂

          • jw
            jw

            I didn’t write Stairway To Heaven.
            I’m not a songwriter.
            You’re barking up the wrong tree.
            Get with the times.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “I’m not a songwriter.”
            OK, just sounded like a classic case of sour grapes… 🙂

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            I’m sorry but not all music “goes” in 15 seconds. You saying that just invalidated pretty much everything you’ve said. That’s one of the most ignorant statement about music I’ve heard.

          • GGG
            GGG

            Umm…you do realize there has probably been hundreds of thousands of songs some pro has said “It’s a hit!” and nobody ever gave a shit about it, right?
            Some of the things you say are ridiculous.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “there has probably been hundreds of thousands of songs some pro has said “It’s a hit!” and nobody ever gave a shit about it, right?”
            Mistakes happen, but interestingly enough not in that scale. Obvious blunders just tend to draw a lot of attention. Yesterday comes to mind.
            15 secs in court — 15 secs to grab their throats/hearts/guts — that’s what you get. If you’re lucky.
            Unfair?
            Not really.
            People rarely spend 15 secs to decide if they like a song. Why would they? They just zap around. It’s really not that complicated, it’s not like you have to think about it. You just instantly know it when it’s there. And when it’s not…

          • GGG
            GGG

            There’s also thousands upon thousands of songs that countless people love that were never and could never have been a shit. Your 15 second rule is just silly.
            If you’re some top 40 superfan and you wanna talk about grabbing people in 15 seconds, I’ll totally be on board with that. It’s obviously how that game works. Across the board in music, though? Gimme a break.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “Your 15 second rule is just silly.”
            I wish it were mine, but it isn’t.
            If you’re some top 40 superfan and you wanna talk about grabbing people in 15 seconds, I’ll totally be on board with that.
            Hm, that is definitely one way to describe me. I love Ke$ha, Spears, the good doctors Luke & Dre, etc.
            Maybe we don’t disagree that much, then…

          • GGG
            GGG

            Well, there’s the issue. You’re talking about a very small percentage of music. Some of the greatest music made in the last 10 years wouldn’t have even gotten on Top 40 if payola were back in full force.
            The 15 second rule is a rule for color by numbers music that has no shelflife and is geared toward incredibly fical music fans. Hardly something to apply to anything else.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “You’re talking about a very small percentage of music.”
            Absolutely. This is what I said:
            Any pro can tell you if a song’s a hit or not from 5-15 seconds! If you’re not hooked by then, fuhgeddaboudit…
            And hits (e.g. songs that most people love — and most artists wish to create) are indeed extremely rare.
            But they are the foundation of the music industry: They pay for all the boring mistakes and they pay for the development of new talent. It’s all about hits, and hits are all about hooks…

          • jw
            jw

            Let’s just address this 5-15 seconds thing once & for all.
            What percentage of bands get dropped after their first record, after having their songs greenlit (and even subsequently tweaked) by some exec? Why did MCA spend $2 million on Carly Hennessey’s record? Which flopped? And then they dropped her? Why does any label put out any record that flops if it’s so easy to tell what a hit song is? What else are these guys getting paid to do? Do you really have any idea what the success/failure rate is in music? You act like you don’t.
            How come Guns ‘N Roses’ Appetite For Destruction didn’t sell for the first year? Why did it take an mtv video for everyone to realize they liked it? They were going to become the biggest band in the world, why did consumers need more than just 20-30 seconds to realize this?
            Why did Decca pass on the Beatles? Would Capital have passed on the Beatles if Sgt. Peppers was their first record? (Probably.) Why didn’t someone at Atlantic pick Stairway To Heaven as a single?
            Why did Avril pass on Breakaway if it was going to be a huge hit for Kelly Clarkson? Wasn’t that Kelly Clarkson record mostly songs that were passed on by Avril, Pink, Christina Aguilera, etc? And wasn’t it huge?
            Why do radio stations play the same songs over & over? Shouldn’t you just be able to play the first 20-30 seconds (or considerably less) of a song & move on? Wouldn’t that maximize sales? Why the repitition? And shouldn’t all record sales happen pretty soon after they hear the first 20-30 seconds of a song & make up their mind? Why is Adele still selling records? Are people just hearing her for the first time?
            You can rule some percentage of songs out in 5-15 seconds, sure. And even that’s not failproof. But you can’t pick a hit song in 5-15 seconds. Why else would the chorus matter? (“Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” Which has ruined more first verses than I can count. Miranda Lambert’s Gunpowder & Lead is the one that still really bugs me. No build at all. No subtlety whatsoever. I know it’s called “gunpowder & lead,” but c’mon… otherwise it would be a great song.) Why would anyone bother to write a bridge? And no consumer decides if they like a song in 20-30 seconds. That’s just retarded. A lot of people even DISLIKE a song until they’ve heard it 6 or 8 times… that’s the dark science of writing modern pop music… songs that people don’t necessarily like, but aren’t able to get out of their heads.
            You’re starting with the idea that people should be happy with a 90 second sample because that’s legal, & you’re trying to justify it in a way that’s almost religeous. Like Jimmy Iovine is some sort of deity that knows something the rest of us don’t. Well I hate to burst your bubble, but not everyone can be forcefed pop music, & it’s not cheap or easy to forcefeed, those songs aren’t won based on the merit of the first 20-30 seconds of the song. You’re deluded if you think that’s the case.
            The 90 second crap was a compromise between technologists & money men who think that consumers are stupid. And some consumers are stupid. And some will totally succumb to whatever you market to them. That’s proven daily. But that’s not the consumer that this article is talking about. And those aren’t the big money spenders, anyhow.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            What percentage of bands get dropped after their first record, after having their songs greenlit (and even subsequently tweaked) by some exec?
            Most. So why sign them in the first place? Ask Pandora (not the radio)! A sucker is born every minute and labels will always hope that a satisfying number are going to buy the dog.
            How come Guns ‘N Roses’ Appetite For Destruction didn’t sell for the first year?
            Like I said elsewhere, mistakes happen. And they tend to be epic. Yes, great music can take time. In fact, I’m sure it can take centuries. But those are the exceptions.
            The truth is that most of us are zappers! I’m not sure you really pay attention to your actual listening habits. Most people don’t.
            Why do radio stations play the same songs over & over?
            Because repetition matters. It’s all about hooks and repetition.
            You can rule some percentage of songs out in 5-15 seconds, sure.
            Yes, 5 secs in the company of a bad song is an eternity. Even 2 secs can drive you bunkers.
            Why would anyone bother to write a bridge?
            You write the hook to grab them — and you write the bridge to make them come back! Again, and again, and…
            And no consumer decides if they like a song in 20-30 seconds.
            That is just not true. We not only trash music, but also novels, and movies incredibly fast today in our constant search for the next kick (we know it’s out there, but where? The gate keepers are long gone).

          • jw
            jw

            You can’t say that consumers make a judgment in the first 20-30 seconds & that they only need a portion of the song to decide whether or not they’re going to buy the song, & then say that repetition matters. If repetition truly matters, obviously consumers need more than just the first 20-30 seconds.
            You’re completely deluded. You don’t have anything to back up your blind allegiance to the 90 second sample.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “If repetition truly matters, obviously consumers need more than just the first 20-30 seconds.”
            Um, ever heard of movie trailers? E.g. short teasers, repeated ad nauseum…

    • Visitor
      Visitor

      A lot of people pirate as a means of testing music or music discovery. They buy what they think is worth buying. Take away the piracy and they will discover less music and therefore buy less music.

      Spotify has provided an alternative to piracy for these same people. They don’t care how they get the music, as long as they can dig through vast amounts of music without having to pay per song. But as Spotify begins to lose artists who are stubborn and want to “hold out” then piracy will once again be on the radar.

      Reply
    • Visitor
      Visitor

      “A lot of people pirate as a means of testing music”
      Wow man, you live in the past. 🙂
      It’s so easy to test any track on iTunes before you buy.
      Only a moron would risk strikes, fines and malware for absolutely nothing…

      Reply
      • Visitor
        Visitor

        I don’t live in the past. I live in reality. Thats what people do. People don’t want to test pieces of the track. They want to test the entire track. Sometimes the entire album.

        Reply
        • steveh
          steveh

          In the reality in which you live there lies a conundrum:-
          If people have access to or have acquired whole tracks or even albums in order to “test” – then why the fuck do they need to “buy”?
          They’ve already got it!

          Reply
          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “If people have access to or have acquired whole tracks or even albums in order to “test” – then why the fuck do they need to “buy”?”
            The simple (and correct) answer is: They don’t.

          • jw
            jw

            Is that a Nielsen statistic? About people drilling holes in their skulls?

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            That’s why streaming is such a great solution. You are paying for every track you test. Every stream over 15 secs gets paid for.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            “That’s why streaming is such a great solution”
            Yes, streaming is a great solution — for the streaming services.
            But it’s suicide for artists.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            YouTube is a must.
            Spotify is suicide.
            Please tell me I don’t have to explain the difference…

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            YouTube is a must.
            Spotify is suicide.
            Please tell me I don’t have to explain the difference…

          • steveh
            steveh

            Not really.
            With full access to the “tested” music by streaming there is no need to “buy”.
            And as we all know, the income per stream is so tiny it takes many listens to equal the income from a track purchase.
            The idea that someone will give a favoured track a few listens and then decide to “buy” it is, in most cases, ludicrous.
            Some people might – I would grant you that. But most won’t. Why would they?

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            Is it that bad that there is no need to buy? Streaming is still far from mainstream. Pay out per stream may be low but the # of streams will increase the next few years. Let’s wait and see.

          • steveh
            steveh

            If you had a shop and people no longer had a need to buy what you are selling because they can acquire it free or much cheaper elsewhere you would have a problem, would you not?
            This is the simple reality!

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            Of course you would have a problem. But that doesn’t mean there is no solution. Be creative.

          • Visitor
            Visitor

            When the winds of change are blowing, some people build windshields, while others build sailboats

          • jw
            jw

            If people have access to or have acquired whole tracks or even albums in order to “test” – then why the fuck do they need to “buy”?
            They’ve already got it!
            Nielsen: ‘Consumers Who Engage In Piracy Download More Music More Often…’
            Why consumers are compelled to buy music they already have access to can be debated, but the data seems to be showing that, for whatever reason(s), they do.
            It sounds like you missed the reading assignment.

    • Visitor
      Visitor

      “freetards always argue that the illegal downloads leads to more legal buying, justifying the “promotional” benefits of pirating. but of course, if the album already stolen, why would someone then go buy it? ”
      Again, you’re absolutely right!
      It is now proved that people discover new music on RADIO, TV, and through WORD-OF-MOUTH:
      http://dmnrocks.wpengine.com/permalink/2013/20130326discovery
      Piracy is not involved!
      Just goes to show — once again — that pirates are worthless parasites and that piracy doesn’t do any good at all for anybody, except for the Piracy Industry fat cat millionaires…

      Reply
  4. Yves Villeneuve
    Yves Villeneuve

    Worldwide, iTunes is doubling song sales after expanding into new countries.
    We could see more than 10 billion song sales in the 12 months ending August 2013.
    It is ridiculous to suggest that sales would exist if the music industry embraced piracy.
    Please keep your opinions real. Thank you. These studies are rather moot.

    Reply
  5. musicjunky
    musicjunky

    when i downloaded a copy of the weeknds music from rdio and it didnt go through i just went to itunes and repurchased it. i am from the days of napster and have had my fair share of free music but thats mainly in the form of mixtapes but not always( ill leave that where it is, haha.) anectodotally since i am in the top 3 percent of wage earners in this country and im a music lover i will pay ridiculous prices for music i love, ie paying for a failed dowload twice and not fighting for a refund. i think avid music fans may likely be similar to me in their attitudes towards music. i also am a musician so im not sure what the data is on that but it would be interesting.

    Reply
  6. Paul Resnikoff
    Paul Resnikoff

    Hey everyone. Sorry about the margins issue, it comes into play in big discussions as you probably know. I just cleaned things up so that all the comment text is now viewable. We’re in the middle of a big upgrade that will solve that problem once and for all, just a few short months out.

    Reply
  7. Beatsuite.com Music Library
    Beatsuite.com Music Library

    It’s an interesting subject and good to see a lot of opinion being thrown about. I see piracy as something that appeals to an audience who would not have paid for it anyway. I don’t think accessing it illegally is causing people to avoid paying for it.
    HOWEVER, the option of it being available illegally, for free is perhaps turning more people into pirates that may once have only seen a purchase as the viable option which is why services like Spotify cater to these more digital savvy people, which is essence is way easier than downloading a pirated CD.
    But the point about a more engaged audience has merit, as these are people are willing to find a way to access this content because they’re interested in it. Capitalise on it and reward them rather than force them to pay for something they don’t want, don’t value or otherwise refuse to purchase.
    Mark at Beatsuite.com Music Library

    Reply

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