Thanks to the RIAA and MPAA lawsuits on behalf of member companies, file-sharing has witnessed unprecedented growth in the last two years. According to P2P tracking firm BigChampagne, the population of the P2P community has increased from 3.8 million in August of 2003 to more than 9.5 million in July of 2005.
That equates to the P2P population increasing by a factor of 2.5 since the lawsuit campaigns began in July of 2003. Although the population has increased, surely people are simply trading various other types of media - any but music, right?
Not even close. Music remains the dominating file format on file sharing networks if calculated by number. In a May 2005 study by BigChampagne concluded that 74.4% of all files shared were music files. Although large movie and CD/DVD image files take are superior in bandwidth volume, they continue to play a lesser role in the online distribution trade.
Something has gone terribly wrong with the enforcement campaigns launched by member companies. What was supposed to force people back in the music stores to buy 1970's technology has instead only encouraged the continued trade of digital music.
There are several questions the music industry needs to ask itself if it ever wishes to escape this increasingly desperate situation.
1) Do people really want to purchase physical CD's anymore, or is the digital format becoming dominant?
2) Do a majority of individuals really want to travel to music store in order to purchase CD's?
3) What is so alluring about P2P networks that hordes people risk personal lawsuits yet still participate?
4) What can I do as a recording label to make my music and distribution methods more appealing?
5) Since lawsuits are proving ineffectual, what can I do other than sue individuals and still encourage people to buy music?
It has become evident that physical CDs are no longer being purchased in the same drove as they once were. The Internet population has become a virtual community where the MP3 players (such as your iPod, PC, laptop, car stereo, etc) are much more practical than lugging around dozens of physical CDs.
Indeed, a recent study by "The Leading Questions" confirms that P2P users may actually be helping the music industry, as they are more likely to purchase digital music tracks from services such as iTunes than their computer illiterate counterparts.
It can only be concluded that lawsuits are only adding fuel to the P2P and file-sharing engine. File-traders have adapted to the RIAA's and MPAA's lawsuits and have learned to migrate. The publicity surrounding file-sharing lawsuits has only resulted in addition users pouring in and further frustrating the entertainment industry.