MEDIA@LSE Electronic MSc Dissertation Series
Compiled by Dr. Bart Cammaerts and Dr. Nick Anstead
Why pay if it’s free? Streaming, downloading, and digital music consumption in the “iTunes era” Theodore Giletti,
MSc in Media & Communications
Other dissertations of the series are available online here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/media@lse/mediaWorkingPapers/
Dissertation submitted to the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, August 2011, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the MSc in Media & Communications. Supervised by Dr. Bingchun Meng.
Published by Media@LSE, London School of Economics and Political Science ("LSE"), Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE. The LSE is a School of the University of London. It is a Charity and is incorporated in England as a company limited by guarantee under the Companies Act (Reg number 70527). Copyright in editorial matter, LSE © 2012 Copyright, Theodore Giletti © 2012. The authors have asserted their moral rights. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission in writing of the publisher nor be issued to the public or circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published. In the interests of providing a free flow of debate, views expressed in this dissertation are not necessarily those of the compilers or the LSE.
MSc Dissertation Theodore Giletti
Why pay if it’s free? Streaming, downloading, and digital music consumption in the “iTunes era” Theodore Giletti
ABSTRACT This research study is an investigation into the consumption of digital music. Rapid growth in the market for digital music has been led by the rise in popularity of online download stores such as iTunes and streaming services. Consumers now have the option to acquire songs from a variety of paid and non-paid legitimate sources, as well as through unlawful channels. At the same time, rights holders have attempted to re-commodify a product that has been decommodified through copyright infringement. Drawing from the theory of planned behavior, this study places emphasis on the role of norms and attitudes in the formation of intentions to either purchase music or download it for free. It will be shown that these preferences affect the treatment of digital music as a cultural object. A political economy framework is used to understand negative attitudes towards attempts to control digital music distribution. An online questionnaire was designed and completed by a total of (n = 162) consumers. The data was analyzed using a mixed-method approach in order to triangulate quantitative results. The results indicate that a large portion of consumers are willing to pay for digital music. However, they are not encouraged by the threat of legal repercussions. Despite being satisfied with the streaming service, users are not willing to subscribe. The youngest consumers hold favorable attitudes towards illegal downloading which is grounded in a norm of copyright infringement and belief in the Internet as free. Finally, it was found that affinity for the recording artist serves to moderate intentions to download illegally. Overall, the results have implications for measures to counter digital piracy and to encourage willingness to pay. Furthermore, they question the long-term viability of the subscription-revenue streaming business model.
MSc Dissertation Theodore Giletti INTRODUCTION
As the MP3 continues to replace the compact disc (CD) as the preferred format, demand for digital music has grown tremendously. In 2010, the market for digital music accounted for approximately 47% of total US music shipments, up from just 9% in 2005 (Friedlander, 2010). Consumers have access to an array of download stores, music streaming services, and Internet radio websites. Music streaming services in particular...
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