The music industry should embrace illegal file-sharing websites, according to a study of Radiohead's last album release that found huge numbers of people downloaded it illegally even though the band allowed fans to pay little or nothing for it.
"Rights-holders should be aware that these non-traditional venues are stubbornly entrenched, incredibly popular and will never go away," said Eric Garland, co-author of the study, which concluded there was strong brand loyalty to controversial "torrent" and peer-to-peer services.
Radiohead's release of In Rainbows on a pay-what-you-want basis last October generated enormous traffic to the band's own website and intense speculation about how much fans had paid. He urged record companies to study the outcome and accept that file-sharing sites were here to stay. "It's time to stop swimming against the tide of what people want," he said.