Study: P2P Music Downloads Increase Music CD Sales

November 7, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Media & Entertainment | Retail & E-Commerce

Contrary to the music industry’s assertions, peer-to-peer (p2p) file-sharing does not have a negative affect on the legal purchasing of music, according to a study commissioned by the Canadian government ministry Industry Canada (via Kapica’s Cyberia).

The study (pdf), “The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the Purchase of Music: A Study for Industry Canada,” finds that in the aggregate – that is, among all Canadians – there was “no direct evidence to suggest that the net effect of P2P file-sharing on CD purchasing is either positive or negative.”

However, it found “a strong positive relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchasing” among the subgroup of P2P file-sharers. Specifically, “among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file-sharing increases CD purchasing.”

The study estimates that for every 12 P2P-downloaded songs, music purchases by P2P downloaders increase by 0.44 CDs: “That is, downloading the equivalent of approximately one CD increases purchasing by about half of a CD.”

As for a relationship between P2P downloading and the purchase of electronically delivered tracks, such as via iTunes, “We are unable to find evidence of any relationship between P2P file-sharing and purchases of electronically-delivered music tracks.”

Among other findings of the study:

  • About half of P2P tracks were downloaded because the downloaders wanted to hear them before buying them or because they didn’t want to buy the entire CD just for that one song.
  • About one-quarter of P2P tracks were downloaded because they were not available for purchase anywhere.

An outline of music acquisition by Canadians, according to the study:


  • 77% of Canadians buy music CDs; women do so more than men (80% vs. 74%).
  • 29% download free music from P2P networks; men do so more than women (35% vs. 23%).


  • Nearly 14% buy music tracks from websites; men do so more than women (15% vs. 12%).
  • The age groups that engage most in P2P free music downloading are the 25-34 (41%) and 35-44 (31%) year-olds.


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