Whereas in the past ‘free’ and ‘illegal’ were nearly synonymous in the music industry, consumers nowadays face a myriad of music platforms with widely different characteristics in terms of business model (advertising supported, fee based, etc.), delivery mode (streaming, downloading, etc.), and others. The current research examines music consumption preferences in this new context. In order to break with the outmoded free-illegal versus paid-legal dichotomy, the present research studies consumer preferences for a broader range of music platform attributes, including free versus paying business models, (il)legality of use, artist revenues, downloading versus streaming, and audio quality. Based on a literature review and a qualitative study with in-depth interviews (N = 92), an online conjoint survey (N = 764) quantifies online music preferences. Results show that consumers of all ages clearly and consistently prefer legal and ethical options if available, but favor different ways of making this economically viable. Youngsters and young adults are more open to advertising, while middle-aged adults are more often willing to pay for advertising-free platforms. Thus, in real-life choices, youngsters may appear to be less ethical and law abiding, but the driving force behind this is mainly economical. Finally, a market segmentation provides deeper insights into online music consumer preferences and leads to recommendations on how to define viable legal and ethical music offerings.
Age Conjoint analysis Digital music Marketing Music piracy Online
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