Obviously the music industry has gone to great lengths to try and ingrain the message that illegal downloads of music have significantly damaged their bottom line, but is there any irrefutable evidence that declines in sales for major labels are as a direct result of illegal downloads?

For example, growth in other media (such as video games) will have obviously eaten into the amount of money available teenagers have to spend on music. Also, the prevalence of the internet means that distribution is cheap and affordable for even smaller labels now (meaning there's less reason for artists to jump to bigger labels).

I ask especially in regard to today's marketplace, where there are plenty of online stores making music available to legally download (such as iTunes, Zune Marketplace, and eMusic).

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    Question of this kind is complicated, since there're a lot of parameters that are difficult to estimate, such as people's sensitivity of price, the depreciation rate of a piece of pop music, the advertising effect of illegal downloading, the extent of herd instinct. Methodology of economic theory today may not be very good at modelling teenagers' spending pattern. I doubt there's any conclusive answer. – Metta World Peace Feb 17 '13 at 4:14
  • I would edit the title as it implies that illegal downloading has damaged the industry music in the past which - to my knowledge - has hardly been proven. – nico Feb 17 '13 at 7:39
  • Also, another confounding factor. Not all music that is downloaded for free was going to be bought otherwise. – Sklivvz Feb 17 '13 at 9:17

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