Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Look At Digital Piracy

Here's an infographic from WebpageFX that uses RIAA and IFPI info to look at the state of digital music piracy since 2004.

Let's face it, if we use figures from industry sources then the piracy numbers are always going to be inflated. I've seen stats that say that for every one digital download purchased, at least 20 are pirated, but that seems way beyond the realm of reason. Piracy has always been a fact of life to the music business, even as far back as the late 60's when consumer reel to reel tape machines first came on the market. The major labels figured that they were losing about 20% to piracy then, and I don't see any reason why that figure should be higher than that today. That said, as we approach widespread adoption of subscription music, look for that figure to drop like a rock. Why illegally download when you can get whatever you want so easily?

This infographic actually makes the case that digital sales are up because of piracy, and you can easily make a case that that's true. As I say multiple times in my Music 3.0 book, "your music is your marketing." The more exposure it has, the more likely people are to buy it.

Digital Piracy infographic image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog

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1 comment:

Jac Xe said...

Maritime piracy involves murder, hostage taking, rape and the violent theft of tangible ships and boats with their cargo.

Comparing digital piracy with this is at best hyperbole and at worst deeply offensive to those who have suffered real piracy.

digital'piracy' isn't realy piracy at all but digital scrounging if the downloader scrounges the music they can afford. Music companies only loose money if someone would have bought their product if they hadn't scrounged it for free. However, music companies MAKE money if people find out about an artist via sharing or covers and then purchase the recording or go to a concert.

There is a large market for CD's sold at artist's gigs that aren't included in official figures - as far as artists are concerned this is a good source of revenue.

Not every job in a sector is at risk and to imply this is simply false. Furthermore jobs can be lost for other reasons. itunes employs far less people than the equiventlent number of record shop employees required to sell the same number of copies. The general economic climate also affects sales. Competion for consumers' money and time in the form of the rise in computer gaming / facebook etc. is another factor.

The fear of digital scrounging has lead the large industry players trying to take away peoples' political liberties via SOPA without due proccess. It has also led to the rise of services like spotify that legitimise the 'listen for free' concept thereby depriving artists of income. Spotify should have a maximum number of listens per track - eg 3 this is enough to know if you like the song or artist - and would not harm sales.

IMO the quality of much new promoted music has also decreased as corperations play safe with image and content. There are too many artistic filters in the record industry now. Records should go straight from the production process to market research and let the listeners decide if they like it or not. The popular tracks can then go on to radio dependent on the target group of the station. Accountants, AR personal, radio pluggers are no substitute for the general public. The success of X-factor is due to each artist being selected via a form of market research based on phone voting if it was just the judges it wouldn't have been so successful.

I am an artist myself (jacxe.bandcamp.com) and I want a healthy music industry as I believe almost all artists do. However I am not willing to trade my basic right of political and social expression in order to fight the mainly illusionary threat of digital 'piracy'.


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