Perhaps it’s a bit early for music rightsholders to call this new information a “turning point” in the battle against file-sharing, but it’s interesting. To me, the Guardian story, noting drops in usage of P2P by certain age groups, underscores what we pointed out in several recent documents — How Online Consumers in Italy Find Music on the Internet, What P2P Means to Online Consumers in the U.S., the U.K. and Italy, How U.K. Online Consumers Find Music on the Internet – understanding how people are finding content is the key to future success, not trying to find the perfect lock to control how they consume or share content.
People will always try to get something for free but in this day and age, rightsholders, especially the music labels, have realized that providing a sandbox of sampling, where consumers can check out songs, or preview music videos, in a controlled setting, with no expectation of portability (being able to capture it and stash it on a hard drive) is how you start building a future business.
So news like this is encouraging and appears to confirm the old chestnut we’ve been talking about for years: you fight “free” with choice, convenience and reliability. Make it easier for consumers to access online and they’ll show you what they’ll pay. Or if they’ll pay.
At some point, the foundations for a 21st century music and media economy will be in place. What will those online service provide that P2P will be hard-pressed to counter (aside from “free” content): online offerings consistently provide breadth and depth of choice for content, simple and effective means of sampling content for consumers, direct links to services or online stores where a consumer can easily buy the content, and/or targeted advertising delivers the targets for advertisers and delivers the relevance consumers will demand (while protecting their privacy).
We’ve still got a ways to go…