Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Database of research articles into copyright

Happy holidays.

See here for a comprehensive link to a database containing hundreds of research articles and reports into copyright.

Many of them have featured on this blog in the past, but many more have not; the list is also constantly expanding.

Tweets @musicpiracyguy

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Research methodology used in music piracy research: revisited

Hop on over to the excellent 'Ragged University' website for a brief article of mine on research methodology used in music piracy research.

It covers many of the issues in the 2014 Convergence article 'Approaches to digital piracy research: A call for innovation', which has been discussed elsewhere on this very blog.

How do researchers explore piracy? What are the limitations in research design? Are the findings generalisable? These are some of the questions I am keen to explore here.

The article is also littered with some great links, for those of you keen to dig a bit deeper.

Tweets @musicpiracyguy


Brown, S.C. (2014). Approaches to digital piracy research: A call for innovation. Convergence, 20(2), 129-139.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Recommended book: How Music Got Free

Took me a while in the end to get round to reading this, and here is my summary.

Witt's book provides an in-depth account of the origins of file-sharing (it goes back longer than you might expect) with vivid descriptions of the principals.

I learned a lot, including that the first pirated song was 'Until it Sleeps', by Metallica. I like details like that.

Defining the year 2000 as the 'banner year' in the timeline of digital music piracy (and I agree), the second half of the book picks up in more familiar territory, and it is here where the real arguments are made.

For instance, Witt ponders: "If something was available for free, and could be freely and infinitely reproduced for free, with no degradation in quality, why would anyone pay to own it for a second time, when they already had it, for free?" (p. 125).

He also critiques streaming, with up to date examples.

It's a non-academic book, so an easy one to swallow.


Witt, S. (2015). How Music Got Free. London, England: The Bodley Head.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Just how relevant is the album format in 2015?

Published this article on The Conversation which focuses on Adele's new release '25' and the recent 2015 Mercury Music Prize.

The article considers the notion that music listening is becoming more passive, that albums are getting shorter, and that the album format may very well be encouraging music piracy.

Check it out.

Tweets @musicpiracyguy

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Business Of Music-Streaming Services: How Deals With Record Labels And Publishers Are Made

Stumbled upon this piece from Tech Times recently which explores music streaming services in some detail.

Though it fails to come to any real conclusions, it offers a neat summary of various aspects of subscription services including how it works differently for established and emerging artists - something I have discussed many times on this blog.

Notably, it draws from academic research (albeit fixated on one study).

Have a peek.

Tweets @musicpiracyguy

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Is Spotify good or bad?

Well that depends on who you ask.

Certainly, if you look at this new working paper from Economists Aguiar and Waldfogel, released today, Spotify both reduces legal and illegal music consumption.

The effect is a 'revenue neutral' outcome for the industry.

Specifically, the authors highlight that 137 streams on Spotify reduces sales by 1 unit.

Find a better rundown here.

Tweets @musicpiracyguy


Aguiar, L. and Waldfogel, J. (2015). Streaming Reaches Flood Stage: Does Spotify Stimulate or Depress Music Sales? (Working paper 21653). Retrieved from The National Bureau of Economic Research website:

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Revisiting the carrot versus the stick, from a global perspective

In this new report from the team at TechDirt, including Mike Masnick (who features frequently on this blog), the recurring question over whether the best way to curb digital piracy is with punitive measures or not takes centre stage.

Uniquely, the authors adopt a case study approach, focusing on France, Sweden, UK, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand - countries which have brought new anti-piracy laws into effect in the recent past.

Overwhelmingly, the conclusion is that anti-piracy laws lead to short-term success at best, and are costly to implement. Or, put another way, the carrot is the way to go in the shape of business innovation, including improved legal alternatives to digital piracy.

The report is short and easy to grasp, presented in a sensible way which is simple to navigate.

It is, however, lacking details of the research which has been reviewed - this is surprising.

Nonetheless, it comes recommended.

Tweets @musicpiracyguy

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Movie Piracy vs. Music Piracy

Much has been said on this blog about the difference between music and movie piracy. Here's another entry, bringing us bang up to date.

Cox and Collins (2014) find that prolific music pirates typically demonstrate a greater propensity to substitute legal content for illegal content, whereas heavy movie downloaders are more willing to pay for legal alternatives.

Why might this be the case? Well for one thing, movie pirates are deterred more by an awareness of the negative effects of piracy on the film industry.

This is interesting, and might stem from the greater transparency with the film industry in terms of box office stats and the increased engagement of movie insiders in the public domain. The music industry is not known for its transparency.

Tweeps @musicpiracyguy


Cox, J. and Collins, A. (2014). Sailing in the same ship? Differences in factors motivating piracy of music and movie content. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 50, 70-76.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Recommended book: The SAGE Handbook of Popular Music

Love you, Sage.

Check out this new text, The Sage Handbook of Popular Music, which you ought to be able to obtain from your finest local library.

It's a monster, with 35 chapters from 36 Popular Music scholars. And, it's great.

Specific to this blog, there's much discussion on digital music trends, with Sinnreich (2015) for example, debunking the myth that piracy hit the music industry by surprise. Other chapters address issues concerning copyright, copying, movie soundtracks, live music, etc.

Everything you might except, then some - including case studies of Jay-Z, Amanda Palmer, Radiohead, and all of the usual suspects.

It comes highly recommend specifically because it is extremely wide-reaching, but self-contained, given the volume of chapters included. For that reason, you might dive in to read about one particular topic, but end up learning all about something else entirely.

Throw in a few beers and some great music, and you have yourselves as good a night-in as you can have in 2015.

Twankers @musicpiracyblog


Bennett, A. and Waksman, S. (Eds.) (2015). The SAGE Handbook of Popular Music. London, England: Sage.

Sinnreich, A. (2015). Music Cartels and the Demateriailzation of Power. In A. Bennett and Waksman, S. (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Popular Music (pp. 613-628). London, England: Sage.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Why young people engage in music piracy

Bonneville-Roussy et al. (2013), drawing from a huge dataset involving over 250,000 participants, find that the degree of importance attributed to music declines with age.

That is not to say that older people do not care about music, but young people listen to music far more than do middle-age adults, and young people listen to music in a wider variety of contexts.

Given music piracy research finds young people as principally involved in music piracy, perhaps it can be simply accounted for by the fact that they listen to more music?

Tweats @musicpiracyguy


Bonneville-Roussy, A., Rentfrow, P.J., Xu, M.K. and Potter, J. (2013). Music through the ages: trends in musical engagement and preferences from adolescence through middle adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105(4), 703-717.


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Why Virgin Radio's celebrated new anti-piracy strategy will not work

I recently stumbled upon an interesting new anti-piracy campaign from Virgin Radio which you can read more about here.

Essentially, it puts emphasis on the work which has gone into creating popular musical works and bears the tagline: 'If you knew what went into it, you wouldn't steal it'.

I kinda like it, in as much as it is thought provoking and a softer touch than some more recent anti-piracy strategies.

But it won't work.

First of all, it makes the perennial mistake of using the word 'steal', likening piracy to theft when it is not theft but copyright infringement. Put another way, it's confusing.

The main issue however, is that it focuses on musical works by musicians who are dead. Some insight from my recent Doctoral thesis strongly suggests that people are keen to buy music from emerging artists, but less so for successful ones. At the heart of this is where the money goes.

You can't support a dead artist financially.

Also, most of the artists in the spotlight will not strike a chord with the key demographic of interest: young people.

The emphasis should have been on popular contemporary artists - ones who are alive.

Twitter @musicpiracyblog

Friday, 21 August 2015

Recommended book: How Music Works

It has been discussed many times on this blog over the years, and now I can announce a formal book review of David Byrne's 'How Music Works' which you can access here if you are quick, or here if you are not.

It's in its second edition now, and it wouldn't surprise me if it went into its third and beyond.

Clink the links above to read more, and click here to buy it on Amazon. Other booksellers are available.

Tweets @musicpiracyguy

Sunday, 16 August 2015

A Cool Idea

Slightly off topic, but anyways.

Was listening to the immersive, joyous indulgence of the new Four Tet album 'Morning/Evening' in a summerhouse in Finland last week and the sound carried across the water in a really strange way that completely changed the 'mix' of the album.

This inspired some experimentation playing some albums I know more intimately from different devices and in different locations and inspired a cool idea: why not offer up alternative mixes of albums on streaming services?

Let me explain.

If albums sounded slightly (or radically) different each time you listened to them, you would have more reason to listen to them repeatedly. In effect, it would be a different experience every time.

Audiophiles are already equipped to do so by varying different levels and customising the sound as they desire, but for your average Joe or Josephine, this might not be such a fun thing to do.

If however, artists streamed multiple versions of albums on streaming services, right down to different vocal takes etc., then it would be a cool way to listen to the album over and over and get something different out of it every time.

That is not to say that I do not think that a final 'album' should not exist, because it should - an artist should still of course release the end product of their labours. I just think, in this new world of exclusive content and all of that, this could be an easy and interactive way to encourage people to stream music from subscription services multiple times.

I guess it would be a different way of listening to early demos and outtakes etc., but in a more subtle way.

Anyhow, just a thought. I have them from time to time. Sometimes I write them down, often I do not.

Twweeeets @musicpiracyblog

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Reflections on a key article from 2010

It's hard for me to believe that five years have passed since the publication of Williams et al.'s key paper 'The attitudes and behaviours of illegal downloaders', from a 2015 issue of Aslib Journal of Information Management (see below).

It is one of the first papers to incorporate meta-analysis methodology, effectively summarising the research into the topic up until that point. In doing so, it argues, convincingly, that the digital world is not the same as the physical world and that new business models are needed.

Critically, it concedes that: "The research, however, shows a maze of contradictions and complexities in this sensitive and controversial subject. More research is clearly needed, especially with a wider demographic population, and with other devices than PCs that can capture and download digital content” (p. 298).

The need for more research persists today. 

Little is known about digital piracy.

Tweets @musicpiracyblog


Williams, P., Nicholas, D. and Rowlands, I. (2010). The attitudes and behaviours of illegal downloaders. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 62(3), 283–301.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

What about video game piracy?

Was searching for some information on video game piracy and stumbled upon this report by Arxan, an app protection company.

Turns out video games are pirated too.

As a non-gamer, I was not up to date with the volume of online games which are consumed, with knock-on effects on piracy. I figured it was nigh on impossible to pirate video games, and that this was a big factor in their success. As an industry, the video games market is of course bigger than both the music and movie industries.

Digging into the literature just now on video game piracy, and hope to find something more concrete. 

I'm interested in it as music is a big part of video games, with songs released through music-based video games, for example.

For now, Ruri (2013) shines a light on the video games industry as having adapted by diversifying revenue to subscription services for online communities for example. 

The music industry must similarly diversify revenues through not only licensing but by bundling music with other products etc.

Tweets @musicpiracyblog


Ruri, L. (2013). Business models and strategies in the video game industry: an analysis of Activision-Blizzard and Electronic Arts (Master's thesis).