Monday, December 06, 2004

From the Future of Music Coalition newsletter, the results from a Pew survey of musicians suggests that most musicians dont see internet file sharing as a grave or significant threat to them--the results potently illustrate the deep divide between the Recording Industry and the musicians whose interests they claim to represent.

In March 2004, FMC and Pew Internet & American Life Project worked with an
array of other musician and songwriter organizations to conduct an online
survey to gauge musicians' opinions of copyright and the internet in
general. Over 2700 musicians completed the survey.

In May, Pew Internet released some preliminary findings, but now the entire
report is complete and downloadable here.

The report includes results from three separate surveys that shared some
common questions. In one, Pew telephoned self-identified "artists" –
painters, writers, poets, musicians. In another, Pew telephoned the
general public. And a third was the online survey that FMC and Pew
launched last March.

The results are fascinating, especially when the musicians' survey
respondents are broken down into four groups based on the amount of time
spent and amount of income derived from being a musician.

Key findings from the musicians' survey:

Musicians use the internet to promote and sell their work

? 87% of the musician respondents say they promote, advertise or display
their music online, and 83% provide free samples or previews of their music
on the internet.

? 69% of the respondents say they sell their music online. 63% say that
they sell their music online someplace other than their own Web site; 56%
sell CDs through online stores like or CDBaby, 28% sell
downloadable files through digital stores like iTunes, and 18% sell their
music someplace else online.

For independent musicians, in particular, this newfound ability to bypass
traditional distribution outlets and geographic boundaries has been a
watershed. One musician explained that having the ability to sell music
online was the most significant impact of the internet: "A huge positive
benefit is being able to have my music available for sale to anyone in the
world who wants it. Ten years ago there was absolutely no way to sell your
CD except through major distribution deals or at your own shows."
Musicians are divided over file-sharing
Echoing the sharply conflicting opinions within the ongoing public debate
about file-sharing, musicians are equally divided over file-sharing
services' impact on artists. There is no clear consensus regarding the
effects of online file-sharing on artists.
? 35% of the online musician sample agree with the statement that
file-sharing services are not bad for artists because they help promote and
distribute an artist's work
? 23% agree with the statement that file-sharing services are bad for
artists because they allow people to copy an artist's work without
permission or payment
? 35% of those surveyed agree with both statements.
Musicians have a wide range of ideas about how to best address the
unauthorized distribution of music online.
In an open-ended question, musicians taking the survey were asked what they
thought would be the best approach to dealing with the unauthorized music
distribution of music online. The responses ranged from "file-sharers
should be prosecuted" to "music should be free". However, there were also
a number of surprising variations provided by musicians that signal the
complexity of the issues associated with file-sharing.

For example, a surprising number of respondents said that peer-to-peer
file-sharing is not the problem, but that it is a symptom of bigger
structural issues for the major labels. Many respondents suggested that the
music industry needed to recognize the changes that peer-to-peer and
digital entertainment in general have brought to the music industry, and
change its business model to embrace it, instead of fighting it.
Another batch of respondents used this question to talk about the need for
artists to control their own music. While negotiating control over content
is difficult in a digital environment, many artists suggested that
decisions over peer-to-peer file-sharing and digital distribution should be
made by the artist, not the label.
View the report here [PDF]:

Read FMC's press release here:

Read an excerpt of the report on musicians' opinions on how to deal with
online file-sharing, including select quotes from survey respondents that
illustrate the wide range of opinions among musicians and songwriters:

FMC sees this report as an essential document that begins to articulate the
real complexity of the issues, and the varied opinions of musicians on many
of these key matters. In the next few weeks, FMC will make sure that the
report's results are properly disseminated to advocates and policymakers.
And we will continue to insist that musicians and creators are considered
rightful stakeholders in these ongoing debates and demand that we have a
seat at the policymaking table.

News stories have been coming in hot and heavy since yesterday's release,
with Google listing over 30 related articles so far. Two of the more
interesting articles to pop up include:

Pew File-Sharing Survey Gives a Voice to Artists
By Tom Zeller, New York Times, December 6, 2004


Study: Musicians Dig the Net
By Katie Dean, Wired, December 6, 2004,1412,65927,00.html


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