Stumbled upon this very interesting post today about file sharing. A Harvard PhD student did a study on the effect of peer-to-peer file sharing. According to his research, file sharing does have an impact on the record sales of platinum artists, cutting their sales somewhat significantly. It helps smaller bands and artists though, with estimates showing these bands would actually suffer without piracy.
I think this is a sign to the music industry that they need to adjust themselves. Instead of banking success simply on the success of popular acts. They need to start supporting less successful artists and use the current market to promote them. Offer a couple of tracks for free, for example, and people may be more inclined to buy the whole album. I personally got interested in Death Cab for Cutie after getting a free track through iTunes. I followed by buying two of their albums.
Why do bigger acts suffer more from piracy? Probably people feel less guilty about stealing from millionaire music stars. I think quality becomes a factor though too. Many popular artists bank a whole album’s success on one or two hot tracks. Smaller bands typically offer more valuable, since they try harder to put out a great album.
It seems based on this research, charging more on iTunes for popular tracks will probably hurt them even more. I wonder whether the record labels will learn anything.