What we say versus what we do.

A recent academic survey found that the average teen has over 800 illegal songs on their iPod:

Although illegal copying has become widespread, the scale of the problem uncovered by the University of Hertfordshire left the music industry surprised. On average every iPod or digital music player contained 842 illegally copied songs.

Fergal Sharkey, former lead singer of the Undertones and now chief executive of British Music Rights, said: “I was one of those people who went around the back of the bike shed with songs I had taped off the radio the night before. But this totally dwarfs that, and anything we expected.”

So Mr. Sharkey notes that teens today are doing nothing different than he was a a kid. But apparently things are different this time around. This time we need to take action, probably because revenues are down.

Really though, this comes down to a matter of convenience, versus one of lost revenue. Teens may have 842 illegal songs, just because it is convenient to do so, while in Mr. Skarkey’s youth it was only convenient to copy a few songs. But just as he wasn’t about to purchase those songs, today’s teens aren’t about to purchase those 800+ songs either.

This isn’t about lost revenue. Thisis about revenue that never would have existed in the first place.

It’s ok though, because those teens are apparently willing to spend their money to rent the music:

Mr Sharkey said: “The positive message is that 80 per cent of downloaders said they would pay for a legal subscription-based service, and they told us they would be willing to pay more than a few pounds a month.”

British Music Rights declined to release the exact amount but it is believed to be about £10 a month.

I wouldn’t rush too quickly into that, as it seems like more of a case of what people say on a survey, rather than what they actually will do. Perhaps that explains the failure of previous music subscription services:

There is only one problem with this idea: Consumers haven’t been interested. Rhapsody, (the new company using the Napster name), Yahoo and others have been able to attract a few million subscribers. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the number of people who buy songs from Apple at 99 cents or download them free with Limewire. For some, the idea that the music expires if you don’t pay the bill isn’t attractive. For others, there’s no appeal because the services don’t work with their favorite music player: the iPod.

These teens aren’t going to buy that music any more than they are going to sign up for a subscription service, no matter what any survey says.

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