Do music artists fare better in a world with illegal file-sharing?

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Comment by Benjamin Sobieck on December 3, 2009 at 2:16pm
I've often thought the same thing, John. Radiohead allowed fans to name their own price when downloading its most recent album, "In Rainbows." This was self-released (i.e. self-published in authorspeak). The math worked out so the band's royalties were about the same as a traditional release.

Of course, Radiohead had a huge audience going into "In Rainbows." Its platform was built using traditional models over the course of many years.

If Radiohead had self-released "In Rainbows" without a solid platform, I doubt it would have had such success. But as I've often said, obscurity is worse than piracy. The emerging artist needs exposure more than a paycheck.

That changes when the electric company comes knocking, but I'm only talking within the context of this article.
Comment by John McFetridge on December 3, 2009 at 12:19am
It's a goodstart at an analysis, but we shouldn't draw too many conclusions. As the article says, "(It’s often claimed that live revenues are only/mostly benefitting so-called ‘heritage acts’. Unfortunately, the data doesn’t shed any light on this because live revenues are not broken down by type of act, gig size or ticket price.)"

I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard to pull out the revenue from the ten biggest live acts over this period and see what percentage of the total revenue from performance that makes up (my guess is close to 90%).

A better question might be, "Do emerging music artists fare better in a world with legal file-sharing?"

I think it might be easy to prove that many young musicians who make their music freely available are doing better selling tickets to their performances than musicians who don't.

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