Yet another study indicates most digital pirates will pay for music – if the price is right.

News.com.au and market research firm CoreData surveyed over 5,700 people who said they had illegally downloaded or streamed music in the previous 12 months. Just under 70% said they regularly downloaded music illegally.

The survey asked two questions about music: why they download illegally when legal alternatives exist, and how much would they pay for a convenient, legal option? The desire for DRM-free MP3s (43.2%) and convenience (37%) ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 responses.

iTunes Australia sells tracks without DRM, so people may not understand there are legal alternatives that offer the unprotected MP3s they desire. Just under 37% of people surveyed said CDs were too expensive and 33% download illegally because it’s free. Only 28% said they download to preview before buying.

On pricing, 49% said they would pay 50 Australian cents (44 cents US) per track, 34% would not pay anything, 15% would pay $1 Australian dollar (AUD) (88 cents US) and 3% would pay $2 AUD ($1.77 US). iTunes Australia, the three price tiers for individual songs are $2.19 AUD ($1.94 US), $1.69 AUD ($1.50 US) and $1.19 AUD ($1.06 US).

So, very few of the people surveyed want to pay anything close to current iTunes price points. iTunes Australia prices include a 10% general sales tax.

A shortcoming of this survey is that it looked at the value of digital music in terms of track purchases. It would have helped if the survey sought consumers’ opinions on access model pricing.

Of course, a price need not be dropped to appeal to everybody. Look at Apple. It has done very well selling hardware at premium prices to segment of consumers who can pay for it. What this study shows is consumers don’t fit into one neat group. There are many segments that differ on their willingness to pay for music. Those unwilling to pay much or anything are being courted by ad-supported services. The problem is P2P offers more convenience and selection than these free services. As a result, it is unlikely people will make the switch to free services without a far better carrot, an effective stick or a combination of the two.