FT: Music Labels Should ‘Embrace’ Illegal Websites

Radiohead_In_Rainbows_Not_Available.jpg

The Financial Times (registration req’d) writes that the music industry should embrace illegal file-sharing websites. That’s according to a study of Radiohead’s last album release, which discovered that “huge numbers of people downloaded it illegally even though the band allowed fans to pay little or nothing for it.”

Sound crazy? “Rights-holders should be aware that these non-traditional venues are stubbornly entrenched, incredibly popular and will never go away,” said Eric Garland, co-author of the study, concluding that there was “strong brand loyalty to controversial torrent and peer-to-peer services.”


As you can probably guess, the RIAA would rather jump off a cliff than agree with this report. But the logic is undeniable: “The expectation among rights-holders is that, in order to create a success story, you must reduce the rate of piracy—we’ve found that is not the case,” said Garland. He said that the piracy was outweighed by the benefits that Radiohead received from the album’s popularity, including strong ticket sales for its concerts this year—not to mention another revenue stream from the ones who did pay.

We’ve never bought the whole “lost sales” argument—nearly all of the people who downloaded the music for free most likely would never have bought it anyway, or would have copied it from a friend via some other means. Piracy will never go away, however wrong it is.

Related Stories
Mediabistro Course

Social Media 201

Social Media 201Starting October 13Social Media 201 picks up where Social Media 101 left off, to provide you with hands-on instruction for gaining likes, followers, retweets, favorites, pins, and engagement. Social media experts will teach you how to make social media marketing work for your bottom line and achieving your business goals. Register now!