Yes, yes, you read that headline right: according to a brand-spanking new study from North Carolina State University, BitTorrent downloads actually boost music album sales. Concluding that there really isn't a whole lot of evidence that downloads negatively hurt sales, the research finds that more piracy equals more sales.
Of course, whilst suited-and-booted record company executives claim that it hurts them right where it counts, economist and assistant professor Robert Hammond took matters into his own hands and did an investigation of his own. Looking into a bunch of download statistics for new albums between May 2010 and January 2011 on a private music-dedicated BitTorrent tracker, Hammond then compared the data with sales numbers to construct a model that looks at the casual effect of music piracy on the industry. And people really were still buying albums!
The paper also suggests that sales could suffer if these torrent sites go down, as they basically serve a similar purpose to radio and media campaigns by effectively advertising music to fans. The paper itself is an interesting read, touching on many different points relating to BitTorrent piracy, and TorrentFreak's article on the matter focuses on the main issues touched upon. Many theories could suggest why piracy actually boosts sales, for example, some people liken it to a word of mouth recommendation, and sharing with friends actually promotes artists, enabling more people to hear and potentially purchase albums. What do you all make of it then? Sound off in the comments below. [TorrentFreak]
Image credit: Piracy from Shutterstock