The catch-cry of the content-loving public these days is all about pricing and availability: make it affordable and available, and they will come. But an Aussie music industry heavyweight has warned that it's all bollocks: cheap content on readily-available platforms won't stop pirates, and you can never compete properly with free.
In an op-ed for the AFR, Andrew Harris principal analyst at APRA AMCOS (the Aussie non-profit that distributes music royalties to artists) wrote that the TV and movie industry should learn from the folly of the music streaming industry when it comes to pricing and availability:
A similar cry was made towards the music industry not long ago, and, having delivered on these demands, it is clear this simple solution is not the answer. In fact, such statements now sound more like excuses than a solution. Music’s had everything everybody now wants for television shows like Game of Thrones for a couple of years: availability, access and a reasonable price. But the piracy issue still has not been solved.
He believes that, despite music streaming services taking off in Australia, one in five still pirate music. That's a stat that hasn't changed in the two years that music streaming services have been in Australia and reached saturation. In short? People still pirate no matter what you give them when, and for cheap.
In fact, results last month from our ongoing national research show that music piracy levels – just as they were almost two years ago – still sit at around the same level as that of movies and television shows.
Overall piracy levels are still in the region of one in five Australians – also similar to nearly two years ago.
How can that be if the reasons cited for piracy in our current Game of Thrones-driven thinking have all been addressed by the local music industry?
Worse still, the majority of those who illegally pirate are wealthy, tech-savvy males aged in their 20's: these aren't people who can't afford a Foxtel subscription, essentially.
I'd agree with him that there is a percentage of consumers who will always pirate their content, be it music, movies, TV, games or even just books, but the vocal minority of pirates shouldn't stop the majority of people who I'd argue are willing to pay for content, and making it cheaper and more readily available can only help those consumers and eventually, content creators in turn. Let's not use this as an excuse to penalise the majority, shall we?