Consumer Focus, a UK statutory organization that acts as a consumer advocate, wants the record industry to do a better job promoting legal alternatives.

Research by the group found that four in ten Great Britons are unable to name a single online music service and 85% have heard of only iTunes and Amazon.

The music industry is shooting itself in the foot by not promoting legal online music services. If file sharing is causing the damage the music industry claims, why aren't they putting more effort into promoting the legal alternatives? Before we go down the enforcement road it is only fair to ask the music industry to do more to make people aware of the legal options.


The study was not made available on Consumer Focus's web site. The in-person survey questioned nearly 2,000 people age 15 and over. It was carried out by BMRB Omnibus.

It may seem surprising that so few people could name Spotify, We7 or Sky Songs unaided, but it's not. These are new services in an immature market. P2P applications have had many years to build awareness.

Unfortunately, the press release did not specify the percent of people surveyed who could name an illegal music service, the percent who are active music consumers, the mean amount of annual spending on recorded music or other relevant indicators. Without that perspective, we don't know the size of the potential market for digital services. Forty percent of Great Britons may not be able to name a single online music service, but it's quite possible that group of consumers will never do anything more than listen to free terrestrial radio.

The reason the participants' unaided recall was so low was because the survey was carried out to be representative of Great Britain's entire population. Had the survey targeted people who engage in illegal file sharing, the very people Consumer Focus is ostensibly trying to protect, the results are likely to have been very different. Simply put, people who don't spend much time with music are not going to be well versed in either legal or illegal alternatives.

For Americans who pay attention, information on legal alternatives is abundant. Anybody who reads the mainstream news has a good chance of running across articles on Pandora, Lala, Rhapsody and Napster. The USA Today recently covered MOG's new subscription service, and the New York Times routinely writes about up-and-coming digital services. Television watchers may have seen Rhapsody's campaign for its MP3 store. In the blogosphere, information on legal music services is omnipresent.

If you aren't actively looking for information on digital music services, the easiest way to find out about them is to use a search engine. Judging from a cursory examination of Google search results, it's quite easy to find legal download and streaming services. But it's just as easy to find links to P2P applications and download sites of questionable legality. Here are the results of some Google searches for various search terms:

• Music downloads: EZ-tracks (#1), Last.fm (#2), Amazon.com MP3 (#3), Limewire (#4), Rhapsody (#5), iTunes (#6), Blubster (#7), MTV.com free downloads (#8), Easy Music Download (#9), Walmart MP3 (#10). Rhapsody is the top sponsored link, followed by iMesh and Kazaa. On the sidebar, sponsored links by Napster, LimeWire, eMusic and AOL Music are found.

• Digital music: About.com's page on digital music (#2) is the only link that would help a searcher find a legal music service. iTunes is the top sponsored link.

• Music service: Rhapsody (#1), Napster (#2), Pandora (#3), Lala (#4) and eMusic (#5). In addition, the first page of results included articles on Napster To Go, Rhapsody to Go and ThumbPlay's new mobile music service. In the sponsored links section were Rhapsody (#1), Google Music (#2) and P2P app BearShare (#3).

• MP3 downloads: MP3raid.com (#1), Amazon.com MP3 (#2), AirMP3.com (#3), BeeMP3.com (#4), emp3world.com (#5), Last.fm (#6), iTunes (#7), MP3.com (#8), Walmart MP3 (#9) and MP3fusion.net (#10). eMusic, Rhapsody, Kazaa, iMesh and AOL Music are the top sponsored links.

• Music streaming: Grooveshark (#1), Pandora (#2), Napster (#3), Lala (#5), Playlist (#6), MP3.com (#7), My Music Stream (#8) and Live365 (#9). Also included in the first page of results was a Mashable.com post on top music streaming sites and a Mashable.com article on We7.

• Legal music: LegalSounds (#1), Jamendo (#6), Creative Commons' music for videos (#9), Rhapsody is the top sponsored link.