Whatever Happened to Payola? An Empirical Analysis of Online Music Sharing
Decision Support Systems, 2004
Posted: 16 Aug 2005
The popularity of online music-sharing networks has attracted interest from the music industry, artists, consumer advocacy groups, the popular press, and government legislative and regulatory entities. P2P networks have become lightning rods for debates on intellectual property rights and music market fates. Yet, to date, little has been based on actual observed activity on online sharing networks. Here, we report on an initial P2P network data-gathering and analysis endeavor and relate it to market performance of music albums. The relative market performance of music albums is gauged using the list of top 100 albums on the weekly Billboard charts. The P2P sharing data gathered is longitudinal, spanning a period of eight weeks. We also identify and track data for 47 upcoming album releases providing pre- and post-release comparisons of sharing activity.
We offer four main findings:
1) significant piracy opportunity and activity were observed;
2) the level of sharing opportunities are related to albums' relative chart positions;
3) there is evidence of both pre-purchase sampling piracy and lost-sales piracy; and,
4) sharing activity levels provide leading indicators of direction of movement of albums on the Billboard charts.
Points (3) and (4) have particular implications for music marketing and promotion.
Keywords: Online Consumer Behavior, Music Industry, Sampling, Piracy, Advertising, Entertainment Marketing, Internet Marketing
JEL Classification: C15, D83, L15, L82, 033, Z1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation