Pirate or subscriber? An exploratory study on Italian consumers music habits

Purpose of the paper: This paper analyzes Italian consumers music habits in terms of online piracy behaviors and their interest toward subscription-based music services (SBMS), i.e. services that for a small monthly fee give users legal access to vast music libraries across multiple devices. The objective is to try and profile a piracy-prone consumer and explore if SBMS could be a viable alternative to online music piracy in Italy, where the general piracy rate is very high.

Methodology: The study is based on an empirical quantitative analysis through the collection of 505 questionnaires completed by Italian consumers.

Findings: The paper highlights how Italian consumers reflect the attitude-behavior gap in music consumption, as they perceive online music piracy as ethically wrong, yet they still show low preference for the legal, reasonably priced choice (such as SBMS). Younger, male, lower education, students have the highest propensity towards online piracy. In addition, consumers awareness, familiarity and interest in subscription-based music services are still very low.

Research limitations: The limitations of the paper are linked mainly to the adapted scales, to the omission of alternative determinants of attitude towards piracy, to the composition of the sample and for analyzing only two subscription-based music services (Napster and Spotify).

Managerial implications: The results call for greater efforts by music industry actors and public institutions to educate Italian consumers about the consequences of their online piracy behavior and the possible solutions offered by SBMS.

Originality of the paper: This paper is the first to focus on Italian consumers music habits, their attitude and behavior towards online piracy and their interest toward subscription-based music services as a viable alternative.

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