Why buy an album? The motivations behind recorded music purchases

Steven Brown, Don Knox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined why music fans choose to buy recorded music given the multitude of other ways to listen to music without payment. A sample of 135 participants (68.88% female) with a mean age of 29.05 years completed an open-ended questionnaire. These written responses were analysed thematically. Two key themes were identified: Short-term comparisons, and Long-term considerations. Motivations focused on value-maximisation across both themes, with short-term comparisons including how many songs were liked on an album and the pros and cons of different formats. Price was by far the biggest factor. Long-term considerations were more sophisticated, with wider motivations including where money goes, and a consideration of recording artists’ financial position. Some participants mentioned as a factor how long an album would be enjoyed, thus betraying the nature of music as an experience good. The desire to add to a music collection was an important consideration. The findings suggest that what might drive people toward music piracy it is not the perceived costliness of music but rather a perception of poor value for money. Discussion focuses on how the recorded music industry can make legal purchases of recorded music more attractive than illegal counterparts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychomusicology: Music, Mind and Brain
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2016


  • decision making
  • thematic analysis
  • willingness to pay
  • digital revolution
  • music purchasing

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