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Economic insight 

Economic insight

Will PageWill Page is Chief Economist at PRS for Music. He provides analytical support, informs the society’s policy-makers and offers influential economic insight, both in-house and to the wider media industry.

One of his most notable publications to date was In Rainbows, On Torrents, produced in collaboration with BigChampagne CEO and Co-Founder Eric Garland. The publication asked whether the band Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want model could compete with the illegal download market.

He has also produced economic insights on topics including: the long tail theory in music; rightsholders taking equity in internet start-up companies; the concept of average revenue per user (ARPU) within the music industry.

The annual Adding up the UK music industry report, which he has co-authored with former PRS for Music economist Chris Carey, captures all the rights, revenues and relationships within the UK music industry, and is covered in The Economist, Financial Times, all major broadsheets and blogs.




Economic Insight 24 – A House Divided: The economics of discounting tickets

While discounted tickets have long been a part of live music industry, Live Nation’s recent deal with Groupon has sharply divided opinion on this practice. Here we explore case studies and relevant economic concepts to inform the debate, especially when dealing with empty seats, or ‘distressed inventory’.

Download the full paper


Economic Insight 23 - Adding Up The Industry 2010

Economic Insight 23This is the third edition of Adding up the UK music industry, yet it represents an unusual first, with UK music industry revenues falling by 4.8 percent to £3.8bn in 2010.

This year we’ve made significant methodological advances, the most important of which is within the UK music publishing business, which we now value at almost £250m - a significant upward revision.

The value of UK music abroad remains a core focus of this report, especially as it is arguably one of the few export industries in which the UK truly excels. When exporting its musical repertoire overseas, PRS for Music outperforms US collecting societies by a factor of three.

These observations are elaborated upon in our concluding remarks and an article by former Andy Parfaitt, Controller of BBC Radio 1, Radio 1Xtra, Asian Network and Popular Music.

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Economic Insight 22 – Wallet Share

The concept of wallet share was last applied to the UK music industry in October 2007, and it’s safe to say a lot has happened to the UK consumer’s wallet since. What makes wallet share a relevant topic to explore in early 2011 is the peculiar and persistent inflation-led squeeze that consumers have been feeling on their wallet in recent times: inflation is eroding our earnings and our savings. This Economic Insight paper illustrates aggregate consumer spend on both live and recorded music as a share of total consumer expenditure. This work is part of a wider initiative, involving PRS for Music, Intellectual Property Office and Imperial College, to improve how the music industry is measured and interpreted by both policy makers and professionals.

Download the full paper


Economic Insight 21 – ECADONOMICS: Understanding Brazil's Unique Model of Collective Rights Management

Will Page worked with Marisa Gandelman of UBC in Brazil and Bruce Dickinson at PRS for Music to present an analysis of ECAD: Brazil’s unique model of collective rights management. The objective of this work is not to propose nor endorse the Brazilian model, but simply to get to grips with the unique economic structure where a  central bureau takes on the function of collection and distribution of both authors’ and neighbouring rights. Put more bluntly, one body (as opposed to two or more) gets the money in and sends the money out for both sets of rights. The objective here is developing awareness of different models from around the world can help inform the current debates about collective rights management at home and abroad.

Download the full paper


Economic Insight 20 – Adding up the UK music industry for 2009

Will Page and Chris Carey revisit the same ‘adding up’ exercise of 2009 with more evidence, improved analysis and a better understanding thanks to constructive and collaborative feedback from across the media sector. The story for 2009 is one of UK music bucking downward trends at home and abroad. Strong growth in international licensing revenues, a robust live music industry and signs of stabilisation in the recorded sector have helped produce these impressive results. The principle motive for this work remains the same: the better we understand the true makeup of this complex industry, the better it will perform overall.

Download the full paper


Economic Insight 19 – Moving Digital Britain Forward Without Leaving Creative Britain Behind 

The UK’s content and connectivity industries face a problem; how can a “Digital Britain” move forward, providing Next Generation Access to the consumer, without leaving “Creative Britain” behind. Put more bluntly, how do you allow A to progress but not at the expense of B?

Download the full paper

View the Q&A


Economic Insight 18 – A Songwriter’s perspective on 6Music

This Insight Paper successfully helped inform the heated debate over the future of BBC 6 Music by offering a fresh perspective on how ‘distinctiveness’ can be measured in the Public Service Broadcasting context. The purpose of this Economic Insight paper was to simply state two facts: (i) 6 Music is playing more unique songs and (ii) paying royalties to more unique songwriters than any other radio station.

Download the full paper



Techdirt – Interview with Will Page, Music Industry Economist 

Mike Masnick of the popular Techdirt music industry blog carried out a lengthy and detailed ‘state of the industry’ interview with Will Page in April 2010. The interview covers numerous topics, from collective rights management to direct artist to fan business models, and includes a long tail comparison between Spotify and We7. 

Download the full interview

Watch Will's presentation


Economic Insight 17 – An introduction to ‘Cost Disease’

Whilst technological improvements benefit the arts in some ways, it still takes four musicians to play a Beethoven string quartet. It is this relatively slow productivity growth that two economists, Baumol and Bowen, coined as ‘Cost Disease’.  Here Chris Carey, an economist at PRS for Music, provides a timely reminder of this controversial theory and considers how it can be applied to music in a digital age.   

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Economic Insight 16 – How to dance to ARPU, when licensees call the tune

Will the established ISP metric of ARPU (Average Revenue per User) help bring additional value to the both rights holders and users; or will fears about swapping high-paying music buyers for low-value, or even free music users, (displacement) on one side of the market hinder the abilities of the other to develop new legal models? This Insight paper aims to inform both rights holders and rights users about what the acronym implies.

Download the full paper


Music Ally – Spotify the Stats

At a Scottish Society for Computers & Law (SSCL) event in Edinburgh, director of content Niklas Ivarsson took the stage with PRS for Music’s chief economist Will Page for a joint presentation to reveal who’s using Spotify by age and gender and, secondly, how are they using it in terms of Spotify’s long tail distribution. The first part of that presentation is covered in this Music Ally article. 

Download the full paper


Economic Insight 15 – Adding Up The Music Industry for 2008

This report not only adds up the revenues generated by the UK music industry, which totals £3.6 billion for 2008, but also shows how  all the different revenue sources hang together. Importantly, this helps the reader have a better understanding of the more complex business to business revenues (from collective and direct licensing, advertising, sponsorship) which now make up a quarter of total industry value. Reading beneath the top line, whilst recorded is down and live is up, this report also explores the widening gap between hits and niches and raises questions over the sustainability of investment in new artists. 

Download the full paper


Economic Insight 14 – The Long Tail of P2P

The theory of the Long Tail first came to light in Wired Magazine in October 2004, as legal digital music services like iTunes and eMusic were taking off. However, illegal music services like Napster, Grokster or Kazaa had been around, providing digital music fans with a massive choice of music catalogue long before such choice was legally provided. This Insight Paper considers the Long Tail distribution profile of hits and niches in illegal P2P.

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Music Ally – P2P’s Long Tail Laid Bare

Will Page has tag-teamed with Big Champagne CEO, Eric Garland, once again to deliver a presentation to this year’s Great Escape Convention, Brighton, 14-16 May 2009. The topic is the long tail, but the data set is the illegal P2P market, which has been with us a lot longer, and is considered to be a lot larger that the legal digital market. Here, they provide a teaser to Music Ally as to what’s in store.

Download the full paper


PRS For Music ‘M’ Magazine – Digital Britain

Communications Minister Stephen Carter’s view of Digital Britain has been produced in interim form with the full version due in the summer. But what does this mean for the creators of music? Here, Will Page provides a feature piece for the PRS for Music’s own ‘M’ Magazine on whether Carter can provide songwriters with a catalyst for change.

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Telco 2.0 Exclusive Interview – The Long Tail Interrogated (Part 2)

Will Page was the keynote speaker at the fifth Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm in London, where he took the opportunity to present, exclusively to Telco 2.0, new research - based on an unprecedented analysis of digital music sales data gathered over a year - that questions the received wisdom around the ‘Long Tail’ theory, and helps to re-define what it actually means and for whom. The presentation created quite a stir at the event, and this TelcomTV Interview with Will and co-author Andrew Bud, executive chairman of mBlox, helps capture what they uncovered. In the Long Tail Interrogated (Part 2), Will Page discusses, at length, the objective of the presentation to help those who weren’t at the conference understand the pioneering work, and then reflects on the reaction to it.

Download the full paper

Watch the Telecom TV interview with Will Page and Andrew Bud


Economic Insight 12 – Shadow Pricing P2P’s Economic Impact

Against the backdrop of a government consultation, aimed at fostering greater understanding between the Internet Service Providers and the music industry, Will Page works with two colleagues, representing Technology and Telco’s -  David Touve of Vanderbilt University and Keith McMahon of STL Partners – to  ‘knock heads together’ to see whether some common ground, and indeed some common good, can be found through aligning incentives within these disparate camps. 

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Economic Insight 7 – Competition with Reciprocity in a Two Sided Market – A Primer

 Although the burgeoning literature on this subject of 'two-sided markets' has obvious relevance to collecting societies, who provide a two-sided platform for rights holders and users, the theory rarely gets discussed in the exchanges between societies, stakeholders and the EC. Here, Will Page provides a 'primer' on the theory to make us better placed to understand where competition law and collecting societies might be misunderstanding one another.

Download the full paper 


Economic Insight 11 - The R Words: Recession and Royalties

The 'R' word 'recession' is being used with increasing frequency these days, so much so that there's a legitimate danger that the media could talk the economy into entering one. But what actually is a recession, what effects will it have on the UK economy and then what impact will be felt by the various sectors of the music industry? Here, Will Page works through the two 'R' words - recession and royalties - to help the music industry understand who wins and who loses, when an economy contracts for two quarters or more.

Download the full paper


Economic Insight 10 - In Rainbows, On Torrents

For all the media hysteria that surrounded the In Rainbows project, and what the 'average price paid' might have been, there is another less intuitive but far more relevant question that has yet to be asked, or answered.  That is, did their offer of their album 'for free' succeed in diverting traffic away from/Torrent sites, and (back) towards their own 'venue' of InRainbows.com? Put another way: could 'legal free' displace 'illegal free'. Will Page teams up with Eric Garland, CEO of Big Champagne to provide a meaningful answer.

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Music Ally 7 June 2008 - Wannamaker's Solution?

Will Page, Chief Economist at the MCPS-PRS Alliance, looks at the potential revenues to be gained from advertising funded models, and the economic problems which stand in the way of realising them.

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© The Register 28 March 2008 - Can 1,000 Fans Replace the Music Business?

Will Page picks through Kevin Kelly's 1,000 true fans argument and finds the maths doesn't add up.

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Economic Insight 9 - Should Societies Pursue Equity?

Will Page tag-teams with David Touve of Vanderbilt University to instigate a wider discussion about the contentious issue of 'taking equity', providing a catalyst for rights holders to work through what that question would entail.

Download the full paper


Economic Insight 8 - Understanding and interpreting the digital market

Will Page, with contributions from Bruce Dickinson, Oliver Tuercke and IFPI Director of Market Research Gabi Lopes, provides a comprehensive understanding and interpretation of the digital market.

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Economic Insight 6 - Getting the bundle back, Pt. 1: Albumbase.com

Will Page pools his economic analysis with the technical awareness of Paul Sanders of Playlouder, to provide much needed insight into the increasingly and diverse secondary black market for music.

Download the full paper


Economic Insight 5 - The Groucho Marx Theorem - An Application to Europe’s Collecting Societies

'I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member,' remarked one Julius Henry 'Groucho' Marx (1890 -1977).  Here, Will Page explains how the theorem can be applied to the dilemma facing Europe's network of collecting society's today.

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Economic Insight 4 - Lost in Translation? A Critique of the Katz Papers

The European Commission's Competition Unit has cited two new academic papers by Ariel Katz as being influential in their thinking about Performing Rights organisations (PROs).  Whilst welcoming Katz's contribution to the debate, the objective here is to highlight where his economic theory gets 'lost' in the applied world of collective licensing.

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Economic Insight 3 - Is Mechanical Copyright Going LaLa?

A new online music sharing service looks set to deliver a further blow to mechanical copyright, and this time - it’s physical.

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Economic Insight 2 - A prisoner's dilemma?

What can the film A Beautiful Mind teach us about competition between Europe's Collecting Societies?

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Economic Insight 1 - The value is in the scarcity, but also in the convenience

What can the economics of ticket touting teach creators about the pricing of their music?

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Music Ally 29 November 2007 - Is live the future of music?

Will Page, Chief Economist at the MCPS-PRS Alliance, offers an economic view on how best to approach this question, and whether an answer can be constructed.

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Music Ally 18 October 2007 - Economics: Time To Face The Music

Will Page, Executive Director of Research at the MCPS-PRS Alliance, gives an explanation of the concept of 'wallet share' to help us find out.

Download the full paper


Transmission Conference Paper - Is the price of recorded music heading towards zero?

A conference paper prepared by Will for Transmission - a conference which took place in Canada from 30 November - 1 December 2006.

Download the Transmission Conference Paper



This material has been prepared by Will Page at PRS for Music for information purposes only and should not be relied on for any other purpose. It does not constitute the view of the Management or the Boards of MCPS, PRS or any associated company. It is provided for the information of the intended recipient only and should not be reproduced or disclosed to any other person without the consent of the PRS for Music PR department. For further enquiries, information, and to request permissions, please contact: press@prsformusic.com

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