Maybe The Kids Are Allright

Remember FM radio's effect on college campuses years ago? Free music, usually without commercials (college stations are largely non-profit), and very flexible playlists made or broke new bands. Fast-forward to 2000. Students now spend most of their time downloading MP3 files for free over the Internet for playback on their computers. As before, new artists often benefit from this phenomena, but record companies are increasingly seeing the students as pirates rather than consumers.

But maybe those music-loving kids are not so bad after all. According to a recent survey conducted by Webnoize, more than half of the college students questioned who use Napster, the controversial MP3 Internet swapping software, say they would pay $15 per month to continue to use it.

This somewhat surprising finding (see related story) is included in the report called "Napster University: From File Swapping to the Future of Entertainment Commerce," which Webnoize says details MP3 swapping among college students and explains how the trend will affect the future of the entertainment industry.

Webnoize Analyst Ric Dube states that "the music industry already prices CDs so that revenue generated from successful releases offsets expenses incurred from most others, which fail. Charging one monthly price to hear it all could expand the market by providing more value for the dollar." According to Webnoize, digital music is becoming an integral part of college lifestyles: nearly 23% of students surveyed said they are spending significantly less time listening to compact discs than one year ago, while 63% said they spend more time listening to downloaded music.