Artists and the Internet: A Comprehensive Study

An introduction and link to the new Pew Foundation study,"Artists, Musicians, and the Internet."

In a followup to our first sponsored ArtTalk, which featured panelists from the Pew Foundation on a panel discussing artists and technology, we present here a link to their study on how artists and musicians use the internet and how it affects their careers. Researchers for the Pew study used as a resource in the study’s development.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project report, “Artists, Musicians and the Internet,” presents findings from the first large-scale surveys of the internet’s impact on artists and musicians. The report suggests that artists are embracing the Web as a tool to improve how they make, market, and sell their creative works. They generally welcome the new opportunities provided by digital technology and the internet.

At the same time, they believe that unauthorized online file sharing is wrong and that current copyright laws are appropriate, though there are some major divisions among them about what constitutes appropriate copying and sharing of digital files. Their overall judgment is that unauthorized online file-sharing does not pose a major threat to creative industries: Two-thirds of self-identified artists say peer-to-peer file sharing poses a minor threat or no threat at all to them.

Across the board, among those who are both successful and struggling, the artists and musicians we surveyed are more likely to say that the internet has made it possible for them to make more money from their art than they are to say it has made it harder to protect their work from piracy or unlawful use.

There were three core research instruments for this study: First, a random and nationally representative telephone survey in December 2003 of 809 American adults who said they are artists. Second, a non-random online survey of 2,793 musicians, songwriters and music publishers distributed through musician membership organizations was conducted on the Web from March 15-April 15, 2004. The third instrument was a nationally-representative, random-digit-dial survey of 2,013 American adults (18 and older) fielded during November 18-December 14, 2003.