Benefits of music piracy on live music attendance
Am a fan of LP and when I can’t get one, I prefer my music played on Radio Cassettes and if that doesn’t work, then give me an original disc and will do justice to my ear drum. I prefer to consume audio more than video and I have invested thousands of dollars buying music over the years.But while legal sales of recorded music continue to suffer from widespread music piracy, the popularity of live music appears to be enjoying an unprecedented boom.There’s no doubt that licensing and live music are now the principal sources of revenue for musicians, not recorded music sales like it was the case during my tween and teenage life.This is why Kenyan boys band Sauti Soul were able to give their latest album away for free through the Safaricom website. Queen of Pop Madonna is said to generate over 90% of her income from touring.It is hard to ignore that ticket prices have increased, particularly among superstar performers, though opinion is divided on why. There are many questions that arise from seeing how the relationship between live music and recorded music has changed, where undoubtedly it seems that recorded music now drives sales of live music and not the other way around. This is something worth examining in detail, especially in how it relates to music piracy and why African musicians should borrow a leaf from their illustrious Western countries compatriots.Several experts have suggested positive benefits of music piracy on live music attendance. One of them whom i spoke to argued that demand for live performances is in fact reduced when piracy is prevented. Another observed what the experts called a P2P exposition effect, in which exposure to recorded music whether acquired legally or illegally motivates concert attendance. Other research has come to similar conclusions, revealing that although piracy negatively affects the recorded music industry, it has a positive impact on other areas such as live music.
Also, stage in the game hypothesis means music piracy affects different artists differently, depending on what stage of their career they’re in. In other words, while it might make sense for one artist to give music away for free perhaps with an eye on motivating concert ticket sales like Sauti Sol did, it might not make sense for another. The important difference is having an established audience as Sauti Sol does. Generally speaking, however, it would appear that music piracy and live music attendance go hand-in-hand.I acknowledge that it is now uncontroversial to suggest that individuals engaging in music piracy are greater consumers of culture overall, noting that music piracy motivates live music attendance. A substantial volume of research demonstrates that those who download music illegally also spend more money on music purchased legally, including concert tickets.Unlike the cases aforementioned above, no empirical data exists to my knowledge which can answer the question of whether or not concert tickets are more expensive as a means to counterbalance losses from music piracy. However, a calculated guess would suggest that this is indeed the case.A Canadian friend told me that piracy is a key factor affecting the price of concert tickets in his country, driven by lower revenues recouped from the recording sector. Certainly, on the surface, live concert ticket prices seem to be rising well beyond inflation and the associated costs of putting on progressively larger and more extravagant productions. A recent study found that the true cost of a ticket has risen due to the increased problem of ticket scalping well known as the secondary ticket market. Largely facilitated by the internet, it exploits fans’ desire to see their favourite artists and the fact there are only limited tickets available for any given performance. Given the challenges of secondary ticketing market and the prices fans are prepared to pay, it could even be said that that concert tickets are in fact under priced. Overall, effects of ticket touting and the fact that artists are performing more, and often more elaborate, shows must also be taken into account when charting the growth of the costs passed onto the consumer.