Research carried out by PRS for Music, which promotes the interests of music writers, composers and publishers, showed that file sharing website and P2P only make popular songs even more popular.
In what is an obvious statement, the study showed that the most pirated songs are almost always the ones which are top of music charts during the same period. It also found out that 13 million songs were traded at least once in the past year.
PRS for music also found out that unsigned or newer bands are not affected in a good or a bad way by piracy. The research show to a certain extent that the long tail theory, which states that there is a significant number of tracks that attract a small number of requests, doesn't hold.
It was also interesting that one of the conclusions of the study was that many users now consider file sharing networks as an "alternative broadcast network" which has a definite impact on traditional music consumption patterns (e.g. listening to radio stations).
PRS chief economist Will Page and head of media tracking firm Big Champagne Eric Garland produced the document and concluded that "file-sharing sites are reinforcing divisions in the music world and only making the popular more popular." However, because the music is free, people did occasionally listen to bands they wouldn't normally try out. Not too many people are willing to pay for the right to listen to a band they may or may not like."
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PRS music appears to be considering the wrong conclusion. P2P is a skewed model since it works on the model that people HAVE to put things on the marketplace before it is picked up. The problem is that file sharing is asynchronous with more people leeching and less contributing. A more interesting option for PRS for Music to do would be to have a look at Youtube, Last.FM, Spotify and Dailymotion to find out what the significant trends are since those websites really offer millions of tracks continually.
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