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Do Young People Actually Care about the Quality of Their MP3s?

Ten focus groups were conducted in 2010 in Toronto, New York, and northern England, with participants ranging in age from 15 to 32 years old. Participants were asked about their file quality preferences for downloading music from online services, in the context of their existing positive/negative experiences, and being able to design a new service that would offer them the format(s) of their choice. This brief will outline some of the key qualitative findings, including: (1) Contrary to popular opinion, young people can tell the difference between a 128 k and 320 k MP3, but there appears to be an age threshold, below which listeners either do not notice or do not care. (2) Listening context and environment are important, and affect consumers’ file quality preferences, even when only considering what type of MP3 to download. (3) Consumers still find that they must weigh their personal quality preferences against other practical requirements.

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