There’s a huge caveat to announce upfront about a ‘new’ report on online music piracy that’s been making headlines in recent days: it’s based on US data from 2008.

So, as interesting as ‘Purchase, Pirate, Publicize: The Effect of File Sharing on Album Sales’ sounds, it tells us about that effect on one country, three years before the launch of Spotify there.

The study, published by Jonathan Lee from Queen’s University in Ontario, tracked 2,251 albums for 27 weeks in 2008.

“Piracy crowds out legitimate sales but that this displacement is outweighed by a word–of–mouth effect in the market for digital albums,” claims Lee.

“The effects of increased file sharing activity differ across artist popularity as well: top–tier artists’ physical sales are slightly decreased and digital ones slightly increased, mid–tier artists’ physical sales are unaffected and digital ones slightly helped, and bottom–tier artists’ sales are considerably reduced across formats.”

We’d like to see a similar analysis carried out for data from 2015, though.

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