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[Berkman] Derek Slater

Derek, the first undergraduate Student Fellow at the Berkman Center, is giving a lunch time talk. He’s leaving next month to work for the He’s going to talk about the study he just released, written with Mike McGuire of the Gartner Group.

The key findings: 1. People like talking about the music they listen to. They want to make recommendations, sometimes by sharing the music. 2. We should embrace consumers wanting to share their tastes in these ways because it’s good for both business and culture.

But (Derek says) we shouldn’t think of music sharing only as the sharing of peer-to-peer sharing that doesn’t compensate the artists. “Imagine that we were simply to do away with all illegal file-sharing…We would still have reason to embrace to consumers as distributors of content and as taste-sharers.” Hence, no matter what you think of free p2p sharing, we should focus on enabling all the other forms of sharing.

Examples of ways people are sharing:

In the iTunes music store, people can publish their play lists. Also at You can listen to 30 seconds and buy songs you like. There have been 500,000 playlists published there, 330,000 at iTunes.

At (for example) people become DJs, creating podcasts

People are creating mp3 blogs, e.g.,

The study surveyed 435 “early adopters” who have started using a music service in the past three months [whom I would call “recent adopters”].

About 50% listen to playlists at least once a week, about the same percentage that listen to music CDs on their computer.

About 25% see the ability to share as a valuable part of an online music service.

50% say they’re being exposed to a greater diversity of music.

So, (says Derek) online music providers ought to enable sharing in some form. These sharing tools are the new form of word of mouth, a recomendation system that can drive people to niche content. It’s also good for cultural diversity. They enable us to shape the way we view music, as opposed to only being molded by mass media DJs; creating a playlist is a creative list. And these tools can form bonds between people.

Call to action: Business leaders and policy makers ought to find ways to license more sharing.

Prediction: By 2010, a quarter of online music transactions will be driven by sharing.

Q [me]: For people who share entire songs, does your study have any data about how that affects buying patterns?

A: Nothing conclusive. It wasn’t our focus.

Q: [me]: Does anyone not allow 30 second snippets?

A: Formerly, yes. Now, we’re seeing some licensed forms of p2p file sharing. But these other ways of sharing have been ignored, e.g., enabling bloggers to provide a full song to their readers that the readers can listen to once or twice. [Tags: ]

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