Does a Free Download Equal a Lost Sale? Nope, says two MBA profs from Harvard and UNC.
They found that Eminem’s “8 Mile” soundtrack was the second most popular among albums sold, and that his song, “Lose Yourself,” was the most popular among file sharers. It seems that downloading was more a symptom of an artist’s popularity in the record stores than a barrier to it. “Our best guess is that peer-to-peer networks in 2002 had no effect whatsoever on sales,” Professor Oberholzer-Gee said.
They concluded that maybe every 10 downloads equals 1 or 2 lost CD sales. Why? Because most people who downloaded for free wouldn’t have trudged into Best Buy for the $20 CD it was on anyway.