Pew’s Internet and American Life Project has just released the first large-scale study of musician and artist views of the Internet, called, strangely enough, “Artists, Musicians and the Internet.” A national survey of self-described artists and an online survey of 2,755 musicians find:
Artists and musicians on all points of the spectrum from superstars to starving singers have embraced the internet as a tool to improve how they make, market, and sell their creative works. They use the internet to gain inspiration, build community with fans and fellow artists, and pursue new commercial activity.
Artists and musicians believe that unauthorized peer-to-peer file-sharing of copyrighted works should be illegal. However, the vast majority do not see online file-sharing as a big threat to creative industries. Across the board, artists and musicians are more likely to say that the internet has made it possible for them to make more money from their art than they are to say it has made it harder to protect their work from piracy or unlawful use.
Survey author Mary Madden writes:
- American artists have embraced the internet as a creative and inspiration-enhancing workspace where they can communicate, collaborate, and promote their work. They are considerably more wired than the rest of the American population. More than three-quarters of all artists, 77%, and 83% of Paid Artists use the internet, compared to 63% of the entire population. Many site specific gains in their careers from their use of the internet.
52% of all online artists and 59% of Paid Online Artists say they get ideas and inspiration for their work from searching online.
30% of all online artists and 45% of Paid Online Artists say the internet is important in helping them create and/or distribute their art.
23% of all online artists and 41% of Paid Online Artists say the internet has helped them in their creative pursuits and careers.
4% of all online artists and 8% of Paid Online Artists say the internet has made it much harder for their work to get noticed.
3% of all online artists and 6% of Paid Online Artists say the internet has had a major deleterious effect on their ability to protect their creative works.
Two-thirds of the musicians in our online survey say the internet is “very important” in helping them create and distribute their music. Fully 90% of these respondents use the internet to get ideas and inspiration; 87% use it to promote, advertise and post their music online; 83% offer free samples online and notable numbers report benefits from that such as higher CD sales, larger concert attendance, and more radio play; 77% have their own Web site; 69% sell their music somewhere online; 66% use the internet to collaborate with others. Many independent musicians, in particular, see the internet as an alternative way to bypass traditional distribution outlets.
23% of all online artists and 45% of Paid Online Artists report using the internet or email to promote, advertise or display their art.
23% of all online artists and 41% of Paid Online Artists say they personally use the internet or email to keep in touch with fans of their art.
21% of all online artists and 44% of Paid Online Artists use the internet to schedule performances and other promotional events.
20% of all online artists and 38% of Paid Online Artists say they have used the internet or email to provide free samples or previews of their art to the public.
The online musicians who responded to our survey are even more likely than the larger artistic community to use the internet to schedule and coordinate performances. Two-thirds of these respondents report that the internet has had a big effect on improving their ability to communicate with their audience and fans. Some 72% of musicians in our survey report that the internet has helped them to make more money from their music and 83% have provided free samples or previews of their work online.
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 say the current copyright laws do a good job of protecting the rights of creators and most have no qualms about the length of copyright protection that the law currently allows. Under current law, the copyright for a creative work lasts for the length of the artist’s lifetime, plus an additional 70 years.
64% of all artists and 67% of Paid Artists think that the copyright owner should have complete control over the use of that work.
They also are clear who benefits most from current law: Half of all artists say that copyright regulations generally benefit purveyors of art work more than the original creators. Musicians echo those views.
Just 28% of artists consider file-sharing to be a major threat and 30% of Paid Artists say this. Among the musicians in our online survey, two-thirds say file-sharing poses a minor threat or no threat at all.
….Artists think unauthorized peer-to-peer file-sharing should be illegal, and most would go after the companies, rather than individual file-sharers.
52% of all artists and 55% of Paid Artists believe it should be illegal for internet users to share unauthorized copies of music and movies over file-sharing networks, compared to 37% of all artists and 35% of Paid Artists who say it should be legal.
When asked about the Recording Industry Association of America’s lawsuits against individuals who are accused of sharing large numbers of music files online without permission from the copyright holder, close to two-thirds of all artists felt that the companies that own and operate file-sharing networks would be a better target to bear the burden of responsibility. Just 15% think that the individuals who are sharing the music files should be the ones held responsible, and 15% think both the individuals and the file-sharing companies should share the responsibility equally.
The NY Times has more:
- “This should solve the problem once and for all about whether anyone can say they speak for all artists,” said Jenny Toomey, the executive director of the Future of Music Campaign, a nonprofit organization seeking to bring together the various factions in the copyright wars.
Ms. Toomey, whose group helped draft part of the survey, believes that artists are usually underrepresented in the debates about the high-tech evolution of the industry.
“These decisions need to be made with artists at the table,” she said, adding, “it’s not enough for both sides to reach out and get an artist who supports their position.”
….”The overall picture,” said Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Project, “is that the musician-artistic community has a much wider range of views and experiences than folks who watch the Washington debate about copyright might imagine.”
Whether the survey will help speed a resolution to the copyright wars, however, remains an open question.
“The goal is to build a new structure that doesn’t repeat the failures of the existing structure,” Ms. Toomey said. “But,” she added, “these things don’t change overnight.”
Madden spoke more to Wired:
- “When you listen to the arguments in Washington, it’s very easy to think that the internet has been a disastrous technological development for artists and musicians. We found that (artists and musicians) overwhelmingly feel that the internet has had a positive effect on their creative lives and careers. In general they’re embracing the internet as a tool in their creative lives.”
And Madden further summarized for the BBC: “Even successful artists don’t think the lawsuits will benefit musicians … Both successful and struggling musicians were more likely to say that the internet has made it possible for them to make more money from their music, rather than make it harder for them to protect their material from piracy.”
What I take away from all this is that artists see the Internet overwhelmingly as a postive but have mixed feelings about file sharing. But even with those mixed feelings, they do not agree that the RIAA’s campaign of suing file sharers is effective or will benefit them. The RIAA cannot claim to speak for artists in this regard.
In related matters, Napster-founder Shawn Fanning just announced his new “online music licensing and copyright management” company, SNOCAP.