Byta have released a special research report, the first of its kind, which examines the current challenges faced daily when it comes to sharing digital audio files and streams within the music ecosystem.
In the following article, they take us through the report’s key takeaways and findings.
In the world of music, few practices are more widespread than the sharing of digital audio files and streams. Whether you’re a professional musician, a casual hobbyist or one of the countless people working behind the scenes in the industry, it’s a near certainty that part of what you do involves sending or receiving files— and in many cases, both.
If you get a few music professionals together in a room and ask them about file sharing, they’ll quickly start rattling off complaints about everything from poorly designed interfaces and wobbly security measures to inconvenient file formats and missing metadata.
The industry needs something better, and that’s why Byta elected to take action. Earlier this year, we conducted a wide-ranging, academically crafted survey of musicians and music professionals from around the globe. Collecting and compiling information was our starting point, and by analyzing survey responses, we’ve sought to build a coherent, data-backed snapshot of the larger file-sharing landscape—and properly diagnose some of its inherent challenges.
Developed in partnership with researcher Dr. John Sullivan (Ph.D. Music Technology, McGill University, Canada), and authored by music journalist Shawn Reynaldo (First Floor).
- Loyalty to a single file-sharing platform is impossible, particularly when most users are both sending and receiving files on a regular basis. User behavior is highly personalized and context driven. In the absence of standard practices, users are piecing together workflows that fit their specific preferences, using a combination of platforms with the exact functionalities they need.
- Security and metadata rank high on the list of user priorities. Frustrations regarding metadata tend to rile up more emotional responses than nearly every other issue.
- Flexibility is important, but functionality is an even bigger priority. Faced with a complex and ever-changing file-sharing landscape, simplicity is what users crave most.
- Users want what they want. When it comes to file sharing, the most logical course of action would be to make as many formats available as possible for recipients.
- In the streaming VS downloads debate, there is no correct answer. Although preferences may be shifting, entrenched camps specifically need either streams or downloads.
- Paid file-sharing services shouldn’t be seen as a niche corner of the market.
“File sharing affects the entire music industry, and with any luck, the data we’ve collected will help to kick start a conversation that’s long overdue.”
Our survey was designed to help us ascertain the current state of music sharing, and after looking at the results, it’s clear that the status quo is complicated, to say the least. When it comes to file sharing, there are no “industry standard” platforms or practices, and even users with similar roles will often have different approaches, needs and frustrations. File sharing affects the entire music industry, and with any luck, the data we’ve collected will help to kick start a conversation that’s long overdue.