Spotify, the ‘unlimited’ music streaming service, has become a phenomenon worldwide, and now boasts 40 million users and 10 million paid subscribers. It launched in Australia in 2012, and like everywhere else, it soon became very popular.
It is often asserted that copyright piracy is a response to the entertainment industry’s failure to supply consumers with a convenient product at the right price. Well… Spotify does pretty much exactly that – providing unlimited music streaming for free (ad supported) or a low monthly price ($9.99 in the US).
It is therefore unsurprising that Spotify keeps a keen eye on piracy rates in the countries where it has market penetration, and at the BIGSOUND music conference in Brisbane today, Spotify’s Director of Economics, Will Page, announced that music piracy in Australia decreased 20 percent between 2012 and 2013, which also correlated to a similar decrease in the number of people sharing music via BitTorrent in Australia.
Although it is difficult to prove that Spotify is the cause of this decrease, the above graph (shared by Spotify with TorrentFreak) shows a marked decrease in piracy a number of months following when Spotify launched in Australia. This matches the notion that it took a while for Spotify to catch on and achieve market acceptance, but that once it did, people felt less need to pirate their music.
Of course, not all pirates have simply deleted their uTorrrent clients, and music piracy is only one part of a much larger (as the entertainment industry sees it) problem, but these results do point to the idea that people are willing to pay for music that is easily obtainable and fairly priced, and that the entertainment industry’s bull-headed penalize-centric approach to downloading is not the answer…