A massive survey of over 26,000 "music listeners" has confirmed what everyone in the music industry has known for years: People want to listen to music for free. The study, conducted by Nielsen Music and MIDEM (click to download the pdf), polled a wide range of music fans in over 53 markets in September 2010 to get to the root of how people use the Internet to get their daily dose of music. And surprise, the highest percentage of people, 57 percent, admitted to watching music videos over the past three months, compared to the less than 20 percent who said they actually purchased a single song digitally over that same period. Even scarier for the music industry, a whopping 49 percent of those polled said they downloaded music from the Internet without paying for it (a kind way of saying "illegal downloading" or "stealing").
This new study comes after 2010's year-end sales report showed that overall music sales (physical and digital combined) were down for the first time in chart history, and just a day after Taylor Swift established a new record for registering the lowest-selling Number One sales week since Nielsen SoundScan began monitoring this stuff in 1991. Obviously, music fans have caught on that YouTube is a faster and cheaper way of listening to music on demand than 30-to-90-second streams on iTunes or, the last option -- actually purchasing music.