A new survey reveals that artists see the web as a way of selling more music and reaching new fans…

Musicians see the Internet as a way of selling more music and reaching new fans, a new survey has revealed.

They also do not agree with music industry tactics to combat file-sharing, the study conducted by US researchers Pew Internet said.

Many also disagreed with the lawsuits launched against downloaders, although the musicians did consider file-sharing illegal.

Report author Mary Madden said: “Even successful artists don’t think the lawsuits will benefit musicians.”

Pew Internet conducted an online survey of 2,775 musicians, songwriters and music publishers through musician membership organisations between March and April 2004, for part of the study. This ranged from artists struggling to make a living from their music to full-time successful musicians.

Madden told BBC News: “We looked at more of the independent musicians, rather than the rock stars of this industry but that reflects more accurately the state of the music industry.”

She added: “We always hear the views of successful artists like the Britneys of the world but the less successful artists rarely get represented.”

The survey found that more than 80% of the musicians offered free samples of their work online, with two-thirds selling their music via the Internet. Almost all of those involved with the study used the web for ideas and inspirations with nine out of ten going online to promote, advertise and post their music.

Madden explained: “Musicians are embracing the Internet enthusiastically. They are using the Internet to gain inspiration, sell it online, tracking royalties, learning about copyright.”

The survey also revealed that independent musicians see the Internet as a way of getting around the need to get a record deal and reach fans directly instead.

US musicians do not fully back the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA)’s campaign of lawsuits against downloaders, but the survey did reveal that although they see file-sharing as good and bad, most agreed that it should remain illegal.

One artist said: “Free downloading has killed opportunities for new bands to break without major funding and backing. It’s hard to keep making records if they don’t pay for themselves through sales.”

Many of those in the survey suggested that rather than fighting file-sharing, the music industry needed to recognise the changes it had bought and embrace it, with 60% saying that the lawsuits against song-swappers would not benefit musicians and songwriters.

Madden said: “Both successful and struggling musicians were more likely to say that the Internet has made it possible for them to make more money from their music, rather than make it harder for them to protect their material from piracy.”