Study: Music downloads don’t affect sales

Michael Geist has a post about the results of a recent Canadian government survey of downloading and its effect on music sales, and the study (full text of which is here) came to two conclusions: one was that, in the case of those who download music, there was a slight positive effect on their purchases of CDs — in other words, they bought more than the average.

The broader conclusion of the study, which was commissioned by Industry Canada and done by two researchers from the University of London, was that when looking at the entire Canadian population, downloading (which is, after all, still a fringe activity) has no perceptible effect on music sales whatsoever. Michael has the money quote:

“The analysis of the entire Canadian population does not uncover either a positive or negative relationship between the number of files downloaded from P2P networks and CDs purchased.

That is, we find no direct evidence to suggest that the net effect of P2P file sharing on CD purchasing is either positive or negative for Canada as a whole.”

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone (except perhaps those who believe the PR campaign waged by the record industry). As far back as 2004 there was a study by the wonderfully-named Felix Oberholzer and Koleman Strumpf, which found that the impact made by downloading on music sales was “not statistically distinguishable from zero.”

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