Musicians Divided on “Cost” of Piracy.
Northwestern Law professor Peter DiCola, has a new study entitled Money from Music: Survey Evidence on Musicians’ Revenue and Lessons About Copyright Incentives. What’s interesting is the divided opinion among musicians on whether or not unauthorized distribution, a.k.a. piracy, helps or hurts their income.
Many of the arguments constantly used to demonize unauthorized distribution – loss of income, loss of control – don’t actually affect the musicians that way as much as the (now largely unnecessary) record companies who were used to a very nice monopoly on distribution of music.
There is plenty of interesting data in the report, but one thing that struck me concerned the artists’ general attitudes towards technology. It’s mixed, to be sure, but some of the often-repeated claims by some maximalists don’t appear to be true. For example, we hear stories that part of what’s so unfair with the system today is that the artists are “losing control” over their works, but many artists don’t agree with that at all, recognizing that technology means they have a lot more control over their works. The difference, of course, is that the complaints about “loss of control” were really more driven by the old gatekeepers — mainly the major record labels. For them, it’s true that they really have been losing control, but much of that control has actually moved back to the artists (and, yes, much of it has also gone to fans). But for artists who were outside of the major label system, it’s often meant much more control over their own careers.
The other interesting point was how little, on average, of a musician’s income came from music sold: just 6% on average.