People who illegally share and download music files over the internet are likely to spend four and a half times more on legal download services than average music fans, according to a study by music research firm The Leading Question.
A study of 600 music fans found that those who regularly download or share music illegally spend an average £5.52 a month on legal downloads compared to £1.27 for the average music fan.
"This shows that music fans who break piracy laws are highly valuable customers," said Paul Brindley, director at The Leading Question.
"The music industry is pursuing them in court but it needs to think of carrots as well as sticks. The smart response is to entice customers into more attractive alternatives."
The research also suggested that illegal downloaders will be some of the first to shift to downloading music onto phones. Sixty per cent stated a desire to have an MP3 player on their phone, compared to 29 per cent of other music fans.
The study concluded that the music industry needs to do more to push legal downloading into the mainstream by making services more visible and stating more clearly the benefits of quality and ease of use.
"This like the old debate about 'home taping is killing music'. The music industry needs to build awareness and move on," said Brindley.
"I think there is some truth in it but the problem is that music pirates cannot easily be converted into paying customers. The music industry needs to come up with better offerings with a better price per song, ease of use and compatibility with any device."
Leonhard maintained that Yahoo's new US service, which charges $4.99 a month for unlimited downloads, is the way forward. The service allows you to listen to the music as long as you are still subscribing.
He also suggested that the UK's Playlouder service is innovative because it offers a bundle of ISP services and downloads.
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