Research shows removing DRM boosts music sales up to 41 percent

By on December 2, 2013, 3:45 PM
music, drm, digital rights management, music industry, music sales, recording labels

University of Toronto researcher Laurina Zhang is working on a paper that appears to prove it is more profitable to sell music online without digital rights management (DRM) protection. Higher revenue would of course benefit all parties involved (record labels and artists) in addition to making it more convenient for legitimate music buyers to manage and consume their digital purchases, but will the industry listen?

The researcher used 5,864 albums from 643 artists in her study, comparing sales before and after each of the four major record labels – EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner – decided to drop DRM. She found a 10 percent increase in revenue after the protections had been removed which also accounts for other factors like release date, music genre and typical sales variations.

Strangely enough, not all albums were affected the same. Zhang found that older releases selling less than 25,000 copies saw their sales increase by 41 percent. Overall lower-selling music saw an increase of 30 percent, too. Removing DRM has no effect on top-selling albums, however. I suppose if people really want new music, they will pay for it and accept DRM.

DRM ultimately did little to curb illegally music piracy and instead hampered those that purchase music legitimately. Fortunately a lot of labels are now realizing this mistake and are doing away with traditional DRM although it is still prevalent in other industries like digital books. Any bets on how long it might take for the book industry to change course?

User Comments: 8

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3 people like this | inventix1136 said:

Records companies and RIAA are never interested in facts but rather put in more and more DRM since obviously they assume that their customers are criminals.

P.S. This is why when I download a movie, I can watch it immediately with no warnings about how bad it is to pirate but when I actually BUY a DVD/Bluray, I have to sit through 2-3 minutes of just warnings of prison time and how bad everything is.

2 people like this | SirGCal SirGCal said:

I don't pirate, but I do make digital copies of the material I purchase for myself only. Simply so I can watch it without the forced half hour of crap. But I do not share nore do I take. I don't agree with stealing. But I also don't agree with forcing users to watch warning after warning and then preview after preview, etc. Honestly, if they took the DRMs out, I wouldn't waste my time. Noone gets anything else out of it then a click now and watch the feature function. This is also why I don't go to the movies. show starts at 10:30, the actual movie starts at 11:15...

And the DRMs don't do jack. Those who are going to steal, will do it. BR, DVD, Music, etc. is all cracked before it even hits the shelves. It amazes me why the studios even bother honestly. None of it works. Just makes the lawful more annoyed. The lawless could care less. If anything, once in a great while they get a challenge to some new method that might take an afternoon's effort. Even streaming content can be copied... There is no totally safe method accept not making the product.

Make it at a reasonable price and piracy stops. Music I don't think is horrible, but perhaps, haven't bought any in a while honestly; but videos and especially games surely are.

Guest said:

Make services easily accessible online for a reasonable price, and pirating wouldn't be necessary. I currently have 95% of my music covered through MOG dot com, however only a small amount of television and movies covered through Netflix and Hulu. I even pay for hockey through HockeyStreams. I'll happily pay, price it fairly, and make it convenient. Until then, for everything else I use TPB. :/

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I do pirate. Most everyone pirates. Hell even the military pirates.

The only difference is the military gets a reduced fine with no other repercussions, where as a civilian has no chance.

dennis777 dennis777 said:

DRM is always a hassle on paying customers...

Guest said:

Typical example of research based on poor use of statistics.

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I do pirate. Most everyone pirates. Hell even the military pirates.

The only difference is the military gets a reduced fine with no other repercussions, where as a civilian has no chance.

Aha. But you don't have the weapons the military has. If you were a software dev. and the military pirated your work, would you argue with them if they were pointing a M72 LAW at your tonsils? Just kidding.

Chuck Cortes Chuck Cortes said:

I never believe people who say they don't pirate, specially the ones who feel like they have to be very specific and detailed about how they never do it. Everyone does it or has done it whether its once or often. I have done it before, no shame, no regrets.

I could care less, I can listen to just about any song I want on Youtube. It's where I find most of the music I like from the 70's and 80's from salsa, merengue and house/acid/new wave music, can make all the playlists I want. As for movies, new ones make it to dvd/bluray pretty fast these days, I am in no rush. 1 dollar at the local RedBox unless a friend gets his hands on it first then I watch his copy. I never buy movies, waste of money. I do fine with Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime.

Software, I use freeware or cloud services as often as I can. Rarely need paid software and when I do I got connections for very cheap prices. These days you can't play games unless the entire system is hacked so its pointless to pirate most good games. Sadly the very thing that makes them hard to play pirated also takes away features that made they so great and instead restricts them by forcing you to buy dlc from the makers thus giving them another revenue source. I love Call Of Duty 2, 4 and World at War for that very reason. These games never get old because someone is always making new mods for free and I know people who buy these games even today so they still making money off these games.

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