The influence of gender and ethnic origin on students’ willingness to pay for music and their motivation to pirate

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2013

21 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of Contents


Literature Review

Article critique

Research question:

Population Sample

Justification of qualitative methods

Developing the research instrument

Methodology of the pilot study

Limitations of the Methodology

Preliminary report based on our research

Key findings

Reflections on the appropriateness of our piloted design




The purpose of this study is to assess how gender and cultural norms determine student’s motivation and willingness to pay for or to pirate music. To reach a conclusion as to what sort of students engage in music piracy, a university wide survey was performed and students from the UK and international countries were surveyed. There is a need for such a study as it will offer the music industry, marketers and educational institutions an insight into the motivations behind music piracy in university aged students and how their willingness to pay could be determined by their own cultural norms. This in turn could lead to strategies being created to combat music piracy in this age group and demographic and revenues in the music industry to increase.

This importance of this topic has recently been highlighted in the 2012 report from the Institute for Policy Innovation which found that music piracy brought about a loss of 71, 060 jobs in the US and an alleged $12. 5 billion loss to the American economy and many believe piracy to be the greatest threat facing the music industry worldwide (Jeong, Zhao and Khouja 2012). World sales of recorded music fell by 7% in value and by 8% in units in 2002 and it has been estimated that almost 40% of all the CDs and cassettes sold around the globe in 2001 were pirated copies (Chiou, Huang & Lee, 2005).

While there are many negative impacts of piracy, other studies argue that from an economic and social standpoint piracy has ensured that more people can enjoy more music at a cheaper cost and has increase net consumer welfare (Rob & Waldfogel, 2004), and that piracy ensures a continued interest and increased awareness or a wider range of music and thus benefiting the industry firms in the long term through increased revenue from concerts and festivals (Silva & Ramello, 2000). The Music industry, however, is strongly fighting individuals who either knowingly or unknowingly pirate copyrighted music. This is done in the belief that in prosecuting these individuals and making an example of them in the media, other potential music ‘pirates’ will be deterred. A lawsuit in 2004 where 532 university students were sued by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) for illegal downloading, highlights the length the industry will go to to combat illegal music downloaders as well as the issues the industry believes they are facing from the young, online generation (Sinha & Mandel, 2008).

Literature Review

Intellectual property is defined as intangible property as a result of creativity that is protected by either trademarks, patents or copyright. Piracy is the unauthorized use or download of that material and used in a manner which violates any one of the copyright holder’s rights. Music piracy is not a new phenomenon. In the 1920s radio stations started playing music over the airwaves without paying royalties. This was not strictly piracy per se, however the lack of tracking impacted songwriters and bands as they were not compensated for their public performances in the same way they would be today. Since then, the music on vinyl, 8-tracks, tapes, CDs and now MP3 files can easily and freely be downloaded from the internet. Although the price of music has been increasing in recent years, many researchers have studied other factors influencing individual’s motivation towards downloading illegal music.

‘Sound Recording Market: The Ambiguous Case of Copyright and Piracy’(Silva & Ramello, 2000) focuses on analysing copyright and unauthorised sound production from within the music industry and its effects. Silva and Ramello argue primarily that music piracy, file replication and distribution is not only a natural consequence of the industry due to the “institutional setting”, but that piracy actually has a positive effect on the industry overall. While Silva and Ramello provide an in depth analysis of music industry firms and the economic models surrounding the issues of piracy, a weakness in their argument can be found in the assumptions made regarding the process of pirating copyrighted goods and the time-lag that they imply.

‘Piracy on the High C's’ (Rob & Waldfogel, 2004) analyses the effects that downloading has on sales displacement and the consequential impact on welfare and expenditure across college students. The author aims to promote the idea that there is a significant deadweight revenue loss across the industry derived from illegal downloads. However, the study suggests that there is some benefit from these activities since it can create a welfare surplus enjoyed by downloads which would otherwise have been a deadweight loss. This welfare is largely transferred from the sellers onto the consumers. The article concludes that illegal downloading accounted for a 10% decrease in expenditure on albums across their sample of college students.

The Journal of Business Ethics article “The Antecedents of Music Piracy Attitudes and Intentions” (Chiou, Huang, & Lee, 2005) focuses on the various deterrence and economic factors affecting Taiwanese Students behaviour and attitudes towards music piracy. Chiou aims to highlight how individual’s idolisation of singers/bands and proximity to them affect their behaviour and attitudes towards piracy. This article is significant given that these two factors influencing consumer behaviour has not been studied independently before. The article finds that consumers may alter their behaviour if they perceive artists to be negatively affected as a result of that behavior, however consumers are unlikely to change their attitudes towards piracy. The limitations of this article are that it studies only Taiwanese students and to some extent limits the usefulness of the study outside of Asia, as culture is an important factor determining consumer behavior. Also, 40% of the participants stated they did not have an idol in music. This maybe due to traditional anti-fandom behaviors in Taiwanese students, and many students attend fan clubs in secret. It would therefore be of value to study music piracy behaviours cross-culturally.

‘Measuring the Effect of File Sharing on Music Purchases’ (Zentner, 2006) aims to use a European Database to assess what effect file sharing has on an individual’s decision making when purchasing music. The findings of this paper show that file sharing and music purchases are positively correlated. By looking at multiple factors (age, gender, broadband speed, income, family size and confidence in English), Zentner found that the most likely downloaders will be young male students who own MP3 Players and listen to music online. It also suggests that students will be more likely to download if high speed internet connections are available at colleges and universities. In conclusion the article finds that out of regular downloaders of music, 55. 8% purchase music in comparison to 37. 7% of people who do not download music. Zentner implies that this is due to the fact that downloads are used as a gateway to gain more ‘information’ on the album prior to purchase.

The article ‘Preventing Digital Music Piracy: The Carrot or the Stick?’ (Sinha and Mandel, 2004) primarily focuses on establishing and analysing the factors which influence consumers decision to illegally download music. The authors aim to highlight that industry efforts to curb the effects of piracy through appeals to peoples morals and attempting to play on their fears of repercussions is futile and has little effect on people's motivation to pirate music. Sinha and Mandel support this view with the results of their three studies which provide a detailed insight into the views of students on piracy and its repercussions. The authors find that the use of fear and shame (eg prosecution) may be effective in only certain segments of society. Their research was groundbreaking in that it showed that increasing the level of fear may actually increase the piracy rate in individuals with high risk tolerance. They suggested that in order to increase individual’s willingness to pay for music, services should offer more value for money in terms of music quality, merchandise and easier access to download or stream.

“To buy or to pirate”: The matrix of music consumers' acquisition-mode decision-making (James R. Coyle, , Stephen J. Gould, Pola Gupta & Reetika Gupta, 2008) is based on a study that was conducted on American Business students and almost half of them (45. 1%) reported pirating music in the previous 6 months. In 2002, more than 30, 000 artists released albums, but only 128 sold at least 500, 000 of their CDs. On the other hand, the article suggests that musicians may benefit if they made their music available for free, once a listener pirates a song and appreciates it he will be willing to buy future work of the artist and sales will also increase through word-of-mouth influence. The article suggests that male respondents, younger respondents, and respondents with less household income are more likely to intend to pirate music. The study concentrated solely on Internet users who download copyright-protected music and did not consider consumer rebelliousness that also affects the consumer decision to pirate music. The piracy risk is the highest for the first song and the marginal cost keeps diminishing as the consumer engages in more piracy, this leads the author to say consumers who have pirated music in the past will be more likely to private music in the future.

‘Ethical Decision Making in a Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Situation: The Role of Moral Absolutes and Social Consensus’ (Bateman, Rittenburg and Valentine) analyses the effect of formalism, idealism and social attitudes on both “recognition of an ethical issue” and “ethical intention”. This study was significant as it gave practical information to researchers allowing them to more effectively understand the ethical decision making processes, which individuals go through when downloading pirated music. Moreover, it illustrates how marketers can efficiently change the public’s perception that “piracy is unethical”. This is a strong argument and is supported in previous studies which state that marketers should focus on strengthening the relationship between the individual and the singer/band and individuals should realise “the serious consequences of music piracy to the future of the music industry”.

As shown, there is extensive literature on why consumers illegally download music with in depth analysis on their motives and reasoning. Furthermore, there is evidence and theories highlighting the impact of these activities on the industry. However, it is clear that there has been little research conducted by these authors into why varying cultures, ethnicities and genders illegally download music and the impact this variation has on the industry.


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The influence of gender and ethnic origin on students’ willingness to pay for music and their motivation to pirate
University of Bath
Business Administration
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ISBN (Book)
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music piracy, example research project, research project, business research project, university research project, gender
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James Carter (Author), 2013, The influence of gender and ethnic origin on students’ willingness to pay for music and their motivation to pirate, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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