Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

Artists, Musicians and the Internet

Mary Madden, Pew Internet & American Life Project, Washington, DC, December 5, 2004 – 2004/12/05

This report is published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Unique surveys assess how artists and musicians use the internet, what they think about copyright issues, and how they feel about online filesharing.  The report, which assesses the first large-scale surveys of the internet’s impact on artists and musicians, reveal that they are embracing the Web as a tool to improve how they make, market, and sell their creative works.

In a period when thousands of lawsuits have been filed against those who are alleged to have shared files illegally and there is daily discussion about the possibility of changes in law, the Pew Internet & American Life Project undertook this work to gain a deeper understanding of the views of musicians and other artists and in order to bring more voices from the arts community into the national discussions about copyright and online file-sharing.

The analysis focuses on 2,755 musicians and songwriters within a sample: «First, we conducted a random and nationally representative telephone survey of 809 American adults who said they are artists. Second, we administered a non-random online survey of 2,793 musicians, songwriters and music publishers distributed through musician membership organizations that was conducted on the Web. Still, this extensive and wide-ranging survey brings thousands of new voices from a broad range of experiences and levels of income into the debate about online filesharing. Third, questions about copyright and file-sharing were included in a nationally-representative, random-digit-dial survey of 2,013 American adults (18 and older) ». The sample is self-selecting and not projectable onto the entire U.S. population of musicians. These online respondents are likely to be more enthusiastic about the internet and more knowledgeable about policy issues than other musicians.

Below are some of the key findings : 32 million Americans consider themselves artists and about 10 million of them get some kind of compensation for their creations and performances; American artists have embraced the internet as a creative and inspiration-enhancing workspace where they can communicate, collaborate, and promote their work; Notable numbers of artists say the internet has been a boon to their marketing efforts; For some artists, the internet has had a helpful social impact as they network with other artists, communicate with their fans, and stay in touch with friends when they are on the road; Artists are divided, but not deeply concerned about the file-sharing that happens online. They want control over their creations, but most do not say internet piracy is a big threat; Artists think unauthorized peer-to-peer file-sharing should be illegal, and most would go after the companies, rather than individual file-sharers; Online artists are also active consumers of media content online. But those who download files say if they get content for free, they usually support the artist or author in other ways. [05-03]