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Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie? The Supply of New Recorded Music Since Napster

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  • Joel Waldfogel

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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16882.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16882

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  1. Marie Connolly & Alan B. Krueger, 2005. "Rockonomics: The Economics of Popular Music," NBER Working Papers 11282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rafael Rob & Joel Waldfogel, 2004. "Piracy on the High C's: Music Downloading, Sales Displacement, and Social Welfare in a Sample of College Students," NBER Working Papers 10874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Julie Holland Mortimer & Chris Nosko & Alan Sorensen, 2010. "Supply Responses to Digital Distribution: Recorded Music and Live Performances," NBER Working Papers 16507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Liebowitz, Stan J, 2006. "File Sharing: Creative Destruction or Just Plain Destruction?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 1-28, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Susan Athey & Scott Stern, 2014. "The Nature and Incidence of Software Piracy: Evidence from Windows," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of Digitization National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Brett Danaher & Michael D. Smith & Rahul Telang, 2013. "Piracy and Copyright Enforcement Mechanisms," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 14, pages 25-61 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Joel Waldfogel, 2011. "Copyright Protection, Technological Change, and the Quality of New Products: Evidence from Recorded Music since Napster," NBER Working Papers 17503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jin-Hyuk Kim & Jeffrey T. Prince & Calvin Qiu, 2013. "Indirect Network Effects and the Quality Dimension: A Look at the Gaming Industry," Working Papers, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy 2013-10, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  5. Markus Pasche, 2014. "Welfare Effects of Endogenous Copyright Enforcement - the Case of Digital Goods," Jena Economic Research Papers 2014-008, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  6. Joshua S. Gans, 2014. "“Selling Out” and the Impact of Music Piracy on Artist Entry," NBER Working Papers 20162, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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