Shouldn't Usage Drop After LimeWire Goes Down?
-- What does NPD's study on LimeWire usage tell us about file sharing? Not enough, says Eric Garland, CEO of media measurement company BigChampagne. NPD noticed a 24 percentage-point drop in usage of the now-shuttered P2P service LimeWire from Q3 to Q4 2010 (LimeWire shut down in Q4). It also noted rises in usage of Frostwire (up 11 points) and u-Torrent (up 4 points) during that time.

"Of course usage [of LimeWire] went down, they turned it off!" Garland writes in an e-mail. "The question remaining is whether and to what extent people replace and/or just keep using the other clients they already had for Gnutella and/other services."

Not only does BigChampagne see a big drop on the Gnutella network (on which LimeWire operated) since Q4, but it counts more U.S. Gnutella users than NPD counts total P2P users. "As a result of the Limewire shutdown, we estimate active Gnutella users [in the U.S.] are down about 18.5% to 17.3 million -- which is more than NPD's entire P2P user audience."

NPD estimates the number of U.S. Internet users illegally sharing music dropped to 9% in the quarter after LimeWire went down from 12% in the quarter before its demise. In addition, NPD found that from Q4 2007 to Q4 2010, 12 million fewer U.S. Internet users were using P2P and the average number of tracks acquired via P2P dropped to 18 from 35.

Have people simply moved on to other ways of sharing files? The larger story -- and I think everybody agrees on this -- is about sharing in general, not sharing through any one service. That includes online storage lockers, MP3 blogs and illegal streaming sites. "We've been making the point for years: P2P is just part of the problem," Garland says.

Y Combinator Startups to Watch: Earbits, Like.fm and Sendoid
-- Two digital music startup and many more startups worth watching are part of the latest class of Y Combinator that was announced earlier this week. One is Earbits, an Internet radio service (it claims to be personalized, a la Pandora, but I've found no such evidence).

"No ads, no commercials, no subscriptions … just bad ass music and a slick website with plenty of things to keep you busy," reads the "about" page at the company's website.

There really aren't any ads, but the company doesn't pay royalties, either. So it has the type of independent artists that would exchange royalties for awareness. The quality appears to be good, but Earbits lacks popular artists that drive consumer adoption.

The other music startup is Like.fm, "an easy way to share music." It looks at the songs you play and makes recommendations to tell your friends what music you like. I should point out, however, that listening and liking are not necessarily the same things. Case in point: Rebecca Black's "Friday," one of the most reviled songs in recent memory, currently tops Like.fm's chart.

One startup to watch is Sendoid, which offers private file sharing between any two users. The company explains that the shared filed never go through its servers and transfers are completely secure.
(NetworkEffect)

New Arbitron Numbers: Radio Is Not Dead
-- Radio is dead. Long live the Internet. Except that radio is not dead. According to numbers released by Arbitron on Monday, an average of 241.6 million people 12 or older listened to conventional radio stations each week in 2010. That number is up 4.9% since 2005 (then again, the entire U.S. population has grown since 2005, too).

"Radio is much stronger than the general perception of it has been," an Arbitron executive said.

How has radio stayed so relevant? Aside from the fact that most every car has a traditional radio, stations' ability to address their local markets is getting some credit.
(USA Today)

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