The Swedish polling company, Media Vision, has released a study (in Swedish) about downloading habits in the country where Spotify was born. Their results? 23 percent of Swedes download music illegally, down 2 to 3 percent since 2010. In short, music piracy, at least in that market, is falling rapidly and much of that decline can be attributed to the popularity of services like Spotify.
As Torrentfreak notes, there’s no way to compete with free, but when content is made available on multiple platforms for a fair price it’s clear that consumers will react favorably.
Obviously this is a small sample (4344) and a small country but it is very telling. If a country with a high rate of broadband use and the wherewithal to use and understand streaming services can make a dent in music piracy, can the rest of the world be far behind?
Greg Kumparak said that whenever he tells folks about services like Spotify and Rdio, he gets wide-eyed glares of disbelief and a pledge to sign up immediately. Why? Because piracy is hard. Ripping CDs is hard. Digging through torrents is difficult. It doesn’t make any sense for anyone over the age of, say, 22, to be digging through The Pirate Bay to find an REM discography. Sure it’s easy to find if you know where to look, but why not just type “REM” into a music service and spend the rest of the day rocking out?
So what happened between 2009 and now? Well, many of these services expanded beyond the desktop to the smartphone, allowing you to listen to music on almost any device. I, personally, listen to Rdio on two laptops, a desktop, two iPhones, and a Sonos system (not all at once). I have no desire to sync all of those machines to one static library any more than I want to download every single new release that comes down the pike. A $9.99 per month streaming service makes a lot of sense, especially for folks who don’t want to futz much with files.
Will streaming destroy piracy? Absolutely not, but it will go a long way to chipping away at the perception that music is free.