Music as a Service as an Alternative to Music Piracy?

An Empirical Investigation of the Intention to Use Music Streaming Services

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Despite increasing acceptance of digital channels, total sales in the music business decreased by 31 % from 2004 to 2010. Music piracy is still considered one of the main causes for this. However, several studies found no effects or even positive effects of illegal downloading on record sales. In the past, piracy has been counteracted especially by prosecution and legal offers. Music as a Service (MaaS) represents a new, differing distribution approach in digital music. In contrast to the well-known music platforms for so-called à-la-carte downloads, such as the iTunes Store, MaaS possesses two important characteristics: transmission (streaming instead of downloading) and pricing model (flat rate instead of pay-per-download). Therefore, the consumption of music by means of purchasing and downloading is replaced by a monthly payment service (paid MaaS) and an ad-supported (free MaaS) service. First user surveys suggest that many music pirates are making use of these offers. To find out if MaaS is an attractive distribution channel for music pirates, we developed a model to explain the intention to use MaaS based on the Theory of Planned Behavior. To empirically test this model, we surveyed 132 music pirates. Among others, the outcome shows that the intention to use free MaaS is mainly affected by the attitude towards MaaS, while using paid MaaS is predominantly a result of the influence of users’ closest peers. The attitude towards MaaS is positively influenced by the desire to receive music recommendations, the payment type (in the form of a flat rate model), and the relative advantage of MaaS compared to illegal choices.

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    The results also remain robust when using other replacement approaches and a case-based exclusion of data sets.

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    In order to assure that the chosen methodical approach is not subject to systematic errors we also applied the item re-use technique (Mode B). Here, the results also show that moral scruples and search costs are the most important influence factors within the construct. The remaining path coefficients of the structural equation model did not result in significant changes confirming the robustness of the results.


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Correspondence to Dipl.-Volksw. Thomas Wagner.

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Accepted after five revisions by Prof. Dr. Heinzl.

This article is also available in German in print and via Dörr J, Wagner T, Benlian A, Hess T (2013) Music as a Service als Alternative für Musikpiraten? Eine empirische Untersuchung zur Nutzungsintention von Streaming-Services für Musik. WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK. doi: 10.1007/s11576-013-0387-x.

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Dörr, J., Wagner, T., Benlian, A. et al. Music as a Service as an Alternative to Music Piracy?. Bus Inf Syst Eng 5, 383–396 (2013).

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  • Music as a Service
  • MaaS
  • Digital goods
  • Music streaming
  • Music piracy
  • Business models
  • Theory of planned behavior