In a study performed by the Harvard Businessman and University of North Carolina,
two groups of researchers have tried to answer the question of whether music sharing on the
Internet has actually proved detrimental to CD sales or not. Researchers found that the
average user doing music sharing on the net logged in only twice during the period of study,
downloading about 17 songs. Some people overshot that average, however. One user
apparently logged in 71 times, downloading more than 5,000 songs.
Two professors narrowed their sample base by choosing a random sample of 500
albums from the sales charts of various music genres and then compared the sales of these
albums to the number of associated downloads.
Even in the most pessimistic version of their model, they found that it would take
about 5,000 downloads to displace sales of just one physical CD. Despite the huge scale of
downloading worldwide, that would be only a tiny contribution to the overall slide in album
sales over the past several years, they said.
Furthermore, their data seemed to show that downloads could even have a slightly
positive effect on the sales of the top albums, the researchers said. The study is unlikely to be
the last word on the issue. Previous studies have been released showing that file sharing had
both positive and negative effects on music sales. The Recording Industry Association of
America was quick to dismiss the results as inconsistent with early findings.