September 28, 2000

Downloading Free Music

Internet music lovers don’t think it’s stealing

“We’re not stealing”

Internet users who download music do not think downloading music amounts to stealing. Music downloaders exhibit little concern for copyright protections.

  • 78% of Internet users who download music don’t think it’s stealing to save music files to their computer hard drives. A majority of those in the general Internet population also hold this view – 53% say downloading music is not stealing, compared to 31% who believe it is stealing. Whether they are Internet users or not, the young, the highly educated, and the relatively affluent support downloaders’ right to get music online for free.
  • 61% of music downloaders say they don’t care if the music they are capturing is copyrighted.

Buying habits

Most music downloaders aren’t incorrigible scofflaws – many have purchased at least some of the music they sample online. However, most music purchasers do not frequently buy the songs they have downloaded.

  • 79% of music downloaders do not pay online for the music they have retrieved on the Internet; 15% say they have bought the music online
  • 21% of online music consumers say they have ended up buying the music on a CD or cassette “most of the time.”
  • 29% say they have bought the music on a CD or cassette “some of the time.”
  • 19% say they have bought the music on a CD or cassette “only a few times.”
  • 26% of music downloaders say they have “never” bought a CD or cassette of the music they have captured online.

A jukebox of favorites more than a new-song sampler

Most music downloaders enjoy familiar artists and favorite songs. But about one-third of them use the Web to sample new artists, as well.

  • 86% of music downloaders have downloaded music they had heard before by artists they were already familiar with.
  • 69% of music downloaders have downloaded new music by artists they were already familiar with.
  • 31% of music downloaders have downloaded music by artists they had never heard before.

For many, a short play list, not a comprehensive catalog

Less than a third of music downloaders have more than 25 songs saved on their computer hard drives.

  • 63% of music downloaders say they have saved 25 or fewer songs to their computer.
  • 19% say they have between 26 and 100 songs on their computer.
  • Just 10% say they have more than 100 songs on their computer.

Napster’s appeal

The file-sharing program Napster is enormously popular with music downloaders. More than half of them have used the software to locate and download tunes. And, despite the relatively small song catalogs on many music downloaders’ computers, lots of Napster users have increased the number of music files they have downloaded since the company’s legal troubles have been a major news story.

  • 22% of Internet users, or about 21 million Americans, have downloaded music online.
  • 54% of music downloaders, or more than 11 million Americans, have used Napster.
  • 45% of music downloaders have used MP3.com.
  • 69% of music downloaders have used Napster, MP3.com, or both.
  • Just 7% have used Gnutella.
  • In our observation, the number of files per user library on Napster has been steadily increasing since our June 2000 report. At that time, there were approximately 100 songs per user library. The current average is 140 songs per user library.