Music WithMe, a music sharing and discovery website that’s also available as an Android app, released an intriguing infographic this week that, if applicable to the larger music community, suggests that Apple may be lowballing the percentage of legal digital downloads in the average music library — where music sharers are concerned, anyway.
Drawn from service’s anonymous user data, the study (see image above) put the percentage of legal downloads in the average music collection of its users at around 14 percent — eclipsing by a factor of five Apple’s estimate that only three percent of the music in the average iTunes library was purchased.
Music WithMe does not disclose its total user figures, so we’re not sure how large the sample size is, and whatever it is, iTunes’ pool is surely much larger. A Music WithMe spokesman clarified that the sample set was chosen randomly from listers in the last month numbering in the thousands, so it does appear statistically significant — and it appears to show that people who share music buy more music than the average fan.
As people who enjoy sharing music, and known on occasion to shell out for it, we thought this deserved a closer look. Someone (who isn’t me) for instance, found just under 1.5 percent of his collection to consist of digital downloads from the iTunes store, with another one percent downloaded from other legal sources, which is pretty much in line with Apple’s figure.
(If we factor in ripped CDs, the total percentage of legally acquired tracks in our test collection clocks in at almost exactly 20 percent. This number surprised me, but for someone who’s still very attached to CDs as a tangible medium, it makes sense.)
The fact remains that for every music purchaser, many more mega-downloaders exist, and “acquired” collections in excess of 50, even 100 gigabytes are not uncommon. If you’re the kind who buys music — not for fear of breaking the law, but because you want to support your favorite artists — you’re probably also the type who would seek out social music services like Music WithMe to evangelize these artists to your friends.