P2P downloaders spend more than non-downloaders on music, but pollster can't do math

Michael Geist sez,

The NPD Group response contains math errors for both non-P2P users (the total should be $192 not $191) and P2P users (the total should be $268 not $267), though perhaps this is due to rounding errors from the original data. More important, however, is a bigger math error in the chart as NPD Group significantly understates the difference between P2P and non-P2P users. In arriving at the grand total, it adds all the categories (physical CDs, paid downloads, subscription fees, merchandise, and concert tickets) plus the sub-total. In other words, it double counts the physical CDs, paid downloads, and subscription fees. The actual grand total of the five categories of spending is $206 per year for P2P users and only $138 for non-P2P users for a difference of 49.3 percent. There is obvious irony in NPD Group talking about the need for a licence to publish data only to get its math wrong, yet the real significance is that few would credibly argue that a nearly 50% increase in spending by P2P users can be simply chalked up to unsupported claims that P2P usage had no impact on consumer purchasing behaviour.

NPD Group Fails Basic Math: Data Shows P2P Users Spend Nearly 50% More on Music Than Non-P2P Users


  1. Clearly, one cannot prove that P2P hurt *or* helped sales based on this data.  The RIAA may be right – these people might have bought $10K worth of CDs every month if not for P2P. A separate study is needed.

    This data *does* indicate that many P2P users are also good RIAA customers.

  2. I’ve downloaded. If I don’t like it, I delete it. If i like it I usually wind up purchasing the ‘official’ version. And watching movies that I maybe oughtn’t to have had copies of has definitely led me to watch more films in the theater. Anecdote, not data, but my spending on legal media far far exceeds $206/year. I pay that much between amazon and netflix, exclusively to watch old tv shows legally. Beyond the $206 is the 20 or so physical CDs I purchased, subscriptions to 4 shows, whatever is on my kindle, plus about one physical book a month, 4 3d movies and 3 others at the theater chains, etc.  

    P2P is part of the culture now. That ship sailed. If you’re responsible for fighting reality, I won’t keep spending at your shop.

  3. 33.3+33.3+33.4=100.0 … now round all the numbers to integers and you call the result a math error?

      1. Yes, but it does weaken the article quite a bit to start with it, when it’s so obviously explained — as the article says — by rounding.

        It’s like saying: “Here’s what’s wrong about your argument. First of all, you misspelled “color” everywhere. Well, I guess that could be because you’re British. But secondly […a bunch of good arguments].”

        Why even point out the first “error” — and accuse them of “failing basic math” — if you quickly realize your own mistake and understand that it’s not an error at all? It makes people suspect that you don’t understand the rest of the math either.

        1. Again. Lets read the end of the first sentence and the start of the second, together.

          “Though perhaps this is due to rounding errors from the original data.
          More important, however, is a bigger math error in the chart”

          See that? Two errors pointed out. Both real. Second one is more important. Seems you and they agree.

          So why does it seem to me that you disagree with both me, and them? I’m not going to presume.

          Is your point that they ought to have only mentioned one of the errors? because that can easily be fixed when you get hired by them as an editor.

          1.  Yes, that’s the point I’m making. Opening with a stupid mistake of his own destroys his credibility, and detracts from the real point he has to make (which is valid).

          2. It’s really confusing to me how you keep failing to get what I’m saying.

            You said: “See that? Two errors pointed out. Both real. Second one is more important. Seems you and they agree.”

            Jonblye and I have pointed out several times, the first is not an error. It’s just not.

            It’s a minor point that only needed mentioning once, but somehow your condescending, rude insistance that “today is a good day to read past the first sentence of a post before responding to it” and “Again. Lets read the end of the first sentence and the start of the second, together,” without having read or understood our comments, made us feel the need to explain again, twice, why this is indeed the case. And now somehow I’m obtuse?

  4. The real message here is that the math does not matter.  The data does not matter.  If your elected representatives are bought, they’re bought.  They could throw out any bullshit numbers they want – and they do.  It doesn’t matter.

    1. the data does matter, doubly so since their abusing it to say what it doesnt’ say. that makes the data central to the point, which is that they’re talking out both sides of their mouth on this.

      And if it doesn’t matter, why bother saying so. Is your opinion so important that you have to share it even when you don’t have one?

      1. My opinion is that you can crunch numbers all you like, but if your representatives are bought, it won’t matter.  They won’t smack their foreheads and say, “Of course!  I must now return the RIAA’s campaign contribution!  The data demands it!”  Instead, they will do what they are paid to do, and the data be damned.

        If you feel my opinion counts as no opinion, and is not worth sharing, that’s fine.  I disagree.

        1. Yes, that strawman you’ve dealt with handily surely was a nuisance. Thanks for responding to -my- words.

          perhaps we should all just be more careful when we assume someone is agruing against us? i know I feel you could right now, and I know I’ve made such mistakes in the past.

  5. P2P usage has no effect on purchasing? Wait, isn’t their whole argument that it does have an effect on purchasing – namely decreasing it? (Of course, the data points in the other direction, but still…)

  6. And yet we still need CCI spying on us to make sure the good citizens know its wrong, even if it is increasing sales.

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