The Geography Of Stolen Music

Nov 14 2012 @ 8:58am

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Laura Sydell unpacks a study (pdf) on unauthorized music downloads by Musicmetric:

In the first half of 2012 Americans downloaded nearly 760 million songs using the software known as BitTorrent, which is the technology most often used for unauthorized file sharing. And most of those downloads happened in cities and towns near universities, says study co-author Marie-Alicia Chang. 

Dan Ariely considers how to stop illegal downloading:

The problem is that if someone has acquired 97% of their music illegally, why would they legally buy the next 1%?  Would they do it in order to be 4% legal?  It turns out that we view ourselves categorically as either good or bad, and moving from being 3% legal to being 4% legal is not a very compelling motivation.  This is where confession and amnesty can come into play. 

What we find in our experiments is that once we start thinking of ourselves as polluted, there is not much incentive to behave well, and the trip down the slippery slope is likely.  This is the bad news.  The good news is that in such cases, confession, where we articulate what we have done wrong, is an incredibly effective mechanism for resetting our moral compass.  Importing this religious practice into civic life was effective in the Truth and Reconciliation Act in South Africa, where acknowledging the many abuses and violations of the apartheid government allowed the South Africans to forgive past sins, and start fresh.

A satirical Youtube blames the disappearance of MTV's music videos on millennials who downloaded all their music for free – the same millennials who complain about the lack of videos on MTV.

(Chart from Musicmetric's Digital Music Index)