Thanks to the kind folks on the FreeCulture mailing list, I just came across a paper created and published by David Blackburn, being a student at Harvard Department of Economics, who tried to study the effect of (music) filesharing on the music industry and record sales. Personally, I think his results are interesting yet not that much of a surprise. Quoting from slashdot:
… [the paper] concludes that it [filesharing] does indeed depress music sales overall. But the effect is not felt evenly. The hits at the top of the charts lose sales, but the niche artists further down the popularity curve actually benefit from file-trading.
Isn’t that what we somehow felt already? P2P being a kind of medium to help artists getting started, getting some reputation or at least attention out there where there is a “music industry”, where music itself nowadays mainly seems to be about marketing not actually about creating good music? Downside of this, of course: What will happen to musicians once, after their music has been in P2P for quite a while, became popular and then, also are sort of “established” artists? Probably that’s the whole point about it: P2P may help talented acts which aren’t (yet) part of the “industry” (in terms of being supported by some major record label) getting started, but it will keep people from turning into best-selling “mega-stars”. Though this is not what record companies all over the world are likely to want, it also might help getting back to the point (the music itself as a work of art) in days in which the so-called “chartbreakers” aren’t necessarily those musicians that are most talented, most inspired, most creative. Perhaps the whole P2P discussion in the public would really benefit from pointing out that it indeed is also possible there to share music which people really and intentionally are allowed to share (CreativeCommons – licensed stuff, for example). Music should be about music, not about economy.
More on that: