Joel Waldfogel does something useful

Yes folks, the guy I probably very unfairly was rude about here, has done something with his life.  He’s lent some of his famous empirical skills to showing something we all know in our bones, namely that people are still producing records, even though the bottom has been sliding gracefully out of the market since Napster launched peer to peer sharing on an unsuspecting world.

People’s natural abhorrence of radicalism, their anchoring of commonsense to what is, along with some deep scepticism that there is ever such a thing as a free lunch leads them to instinctively recoil from the idea that the music market would be just fine without any IP whatever.  I suspect that’s broadly right, just as the market for recipes has never been better even though there’s no IP in them. Why? Because it’s so much fun to make recipes, and if you need to make money from them you can – by flicking the switch to charisma, being a bit of a charmer on the tele and coming up with some nice recipes.

Anyway, here’s the paper – and the abstract.

In the decade since Napster, file-sharing has undermined the protection that copyright affords recorded music, reducing recorded music sales. What matters for consumers, however, is not sellers’ revenue but the surplus they derive from new music. The legal monopoly created by copyright is justified by its encouragement of the creation of new works, but there is little evidence on this relationship. The file-sharing era can be viewed as a large-scale experiment allowing us to check whether events since Napster have stemmed the flow of new works. We assemble a novel dataset on the number of high quality works released annually, since 1960, derived from retrospective critical assessments of music such best-of-the-decade lists. This allows a comparison of the quantity of new albums since Napster to 1) its pre-Napster level, 2) pre-Napster trends, and 3) a possible control, the volume of new songs since the iTunes Music Store’s revitalization of the single. We find no evidence that changes since Napster have affected the quantity of new recorded music or artists coming to market. We reconcile stable quantities in the face of decreased demand with reduced costs of bringing works to market and a growing role of independent labels.

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Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
Incurious and Unread (aka Dave)
10 years ago

But you have to pay to read the paper?!

Francis Xavier Holden
10 years ago

nicholas – I have had and interest in all this since “Purple People Eater” was a new release.

I can’t understand that abstract.

Or alternatively if it says what I think it says then its just plain pointless and silly.