Pirated Music Goes Mainstream

According to Artistdirect, a company that tracks illegal downloads, between 300 and 500 million songs are pirated each day; a fact that many blame for the continuing death of CD sales and downturn in traditional radio listenership. Amid all the gloom and doom, however, one spies an ironic bright spot on the musical horizon.

Some radio stations around the country, including Power 106 in Los Angeles, are starting to consider research data on illegal music file sharing when shaping their on-air playlists. Sarah McBride writes about it in a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal. It is an interesting dynamic: If a radio station is not already playing a song that is a popular download on illegal sites, playing it can attract listeners. As requests increase, so too does a song’s radio rotation; a hit radio song, in turn, quite often spurs an increase in legal downloads in that city.

Clear Channel Communications (considered by many the anti-Christ in the fall of radio’s popularity), just began marketing this information via sister entity Premiere Radio Networks and its Mediabase unit (my old company).

Clear Channel saves radio and the music industry. Wouldn’t that be ironic.