Consumers taped music worth more than $2.85 billion at the retail level in 1980, according to the first study of the market, a survey released today by a leading record and tape producer.
The survey, which was prepared for Warner Communications Inc. and directed by Booz, Allen & Hamilton Inc., shows that the public spent more than $600 million on blank audio tapes in 1980, and copied about 250 million albums and more than two billion selections from records and singles.
According to the Warner study, tapers recorded more than 455 million albums, worth a median price of about $6.25, leading to the total value of close to $3 billion. Total sales of prerecorded materials was more than $3.6 billion in 1980.
Publication of the survey comes during a period of intense concern about lagging sales within the music and recording industries as consumers increasingly turn to taping as an alternative to rising record prices.
Warner, for example, reported "flat" record sales of $811 million last year, and the industry has been quietly laying off people and cutting back from its aggressive posture of the 1960s and 1970s. Industry studies also demonstrate decreases in the percentage of the public buying records and prerecorded tapes.
Release of the study also comes during continuing debate in Washington about the taping isssue. Judiciary committees of both houses of Congress are considering legislation that would attach a royalty fee system to taping as compensation to artists and others in the business.
About 45 percent of the 2,370 persons interviewed for the study say they taped music or other audio entertainment, in the words of the survey, "so I didn't have to buy it," the leading reason for the taping. Most of those persons are adults between 20 and 34 years of age from middle- to upper-income brackets.
The trend is accelerating, the survey also disclosed. For instance, the number of people who own audio recording equipment rose from 71.3 million in 1977 to almost 90 million in 1980 and, during the same period, there were about 6.6 million new buyers of blank tape, the study said.
"Although we do not believe that every album or selection that is copied is a 'lost sale' to the industry, we do believe that all copying infringes upon the lawful and legitimate rights of the copyright owners," Warner said in releasing the survey. The company charged that taping "is incompatible with a healthy prerecorded-music industry."