The Purchase versus Illegal Download of Music by Consumers: The Influence of Consumer Response towards the Artist and Music*

Article excerpt


Based on qualitative and quantitative surveys, I show that consumer responses toward a particular song and toward its performer(s) play distinct roles in explaining consumer choices to either buy or illegally download that song. The various types of consumer responses to songs and artists are first identified through qualitative research and then validated through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) of survey data. While consumer responses to music explain the need to reexperience and acquire the song, consumer responses to performers explain purchase over illegal downloading.

Copyright © 2007 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

JEL Classification: M31

Keywords: marketing, music, consumer behaviour, piracy, downloading


À partir d'enquêtes qualitatives et quantitatives, nous montrons dans la présente étude que les réactions des consommateurs à une chanson en particulier et à l'artiste (ou aux artistes) influencent de façon différente leurs modes d'acquisition de cette chanson (achat ou téléchargement illégal). L'étude identifie d'abord les divers types de réactions des consommateurs à l'égard des titres musicaux. Ces types de réactions sont ensuite validés par voie d'analyses factonelles exploratoire, puis confirmatoire (CFA). Si les réactions des consommateurs à l'égard de la musique rendent compte de l'envie de la réentendre et de l'acquérir, les réactions des consommateurs à l'égard de l'artiste par contre sont responsables de la décision d'acquisition par voie d'achat légal plutôt que par voie de téléchargement illégal. Copyright © 2007 ASAC. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Mots-clés : marketing, musique, comportement du consommateur, piraterie, téléchargement

For some time, the music industry has expressed concern over the negative effects of illegal downloads of music done via computers through peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms. The numbers quoted speak volumes: there are estimated to be 1 billion music files available on line and 100 million users of sharing software - for example KaZaA and BitTorrent - who make 2.6 billion illegal file transfers each month. This has led to a large drop in sales: in the US, 681 million CDs and cassettes were sold in 2002 as compared to 785 million two years earlier (Associated Press, 28 March 2003). The organization representing the Quebec recording and entertainment industry, ADISQ, estimated that at the end of 2003, illegal file transfers were costing the industry millions of dollars every year: a difficult situation for a market of this size (ADISQ, 14 October 2003). With illegal downloads costing essentially nothing, it is obvious that this method is far less expensive for consumers than buying the original. From a strictly economic viewpoint, it is therefore not surprising that this type of activity involves many participants, the most of which are young people who are not only the biggest consumers of music but also among the most price conscious (Tom, Garibaldi, Zeng, & Pilcher. 1998).

The economic motive to illegal downloads, however, does not fully explain such behaviour. Researchers have investigated why some individuals make legal purchases while others turn to illegal file sharing for the same piece of music. Research has, for example, shown that consumers of counterfeit goods held a more negative attitude to legality (Cordell, Wonglada, & Kieschnick. 1996), were less self-confident, and viewed themselves as less successful and of lower social status (Bloch, Bush, & Campbell, 1993). Finally, researchers have also looked at the impact of the perceived risk of illegally downloading or buying pirated products; at how damage caused to artists, the music industry, and society was perceived; at attitudes towards the morality of buying counterfeit or pirated goods; at social influences; and at various personality factors affecting the consumers' decision to resort to piracy (Ang, Cheng, Lim, & Tambyah, 2001). …