Are you ready? No, seriously. Are you sitting down? Have I got a deal, er, SHOCKA for you! Some wise-ass German researchers have made the preposterous suggestion that P2P music downloads don't actually have the gouging effect on record sales that Sony BMG 'n' friends whine about all the time. You might be saying to yourself, "Clearly, this is a clouding of the truth by those damn liberal independent media sources and the arrests of middle school kids and soccer moms should happen like, on the hour." Sir or madam, allow me to convince you otherwise.
The two punks in question go by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf, and the study is entitled "The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis" (alternate title: "Dear Huge Record Conglomerates: Please Stop Whining! Love, Fefe & Koko"). After zeroing in on the logs of two OpenNAP P2P servers and comparing the digits with sales figs from Nielsen Soundscan, they found that the 1.75 million songs downloaded packed a "devastating" punch of uh, 0.7% to the 680 albums sold. Ooh, foreal, that's gotta hurt. Except it doesn't. So why are record sales so lame, now that the file-sharing monster's turned out to be a threat equivalent to that of a My Little Pony?
First off, record companies' sales stats are based on the amount of CDs they ship, rather than how many are actually sold. That shipping number's come down in recent years because big music chains don't want tons of inventory stacked up in the back room anymore. No more playing frisbee with all those extra copies of the Glitter soundtrack. Bummer. Also, keep in mind that you can snag a copy of The Notebook on DVD and go home and make out with Rachel McAdams on your TV screen for the same price as Paris Hilton's album, and I'm guessing the first one would be more fun. Not that I would really suggest either of those endeavors. In fact, I would actively shun you.
Of course, there's always my own theory: maybe there's just not a lot of music sitting around in Best Buy that people want to listen to because it's... well, bad? Either way, I extend a statement to the Big 4 in the immortal words of Snoop Dogg as interviewed by Ben Stiller playing Matt Pinfield on SNL: "Mannn, shut up, youse givin' me a headache!"
You can check out the study for yourself here.