Spotify Australia Boss: We're Successfully Fighting Music Piracy

Contrary to the insistence of media analysts, music piracy in Australia is not endemic, and streaming music services have contributed to stemming that flow -- that's the claim made by Spotify Australian chief Kate Vale, whose company is finishing up a project on Spotify's impact on Australian piracy.

Speaking to the Australian Financial Review, Vale "hit back" at claims from APRA AMCOS analyst Andrew Harris that despite the availability and ubiquity of music streaming services, piracy levels had not dropped in recent years.

She said that Spotify's anecdotal evidence, separately from the project the company is undertaking to demonstrate its two years' experience in Australia, was that even the teenage demographic, who have never bought music before, are contributing to musicians' royalties and industry wages through their use of Spotify's free tier:

“We do believe that access, availability and price does contribute and is the answer and we have proven this in other markets across Europe and particularly in Sweden where we have seen a 30 per cent reduction in piracy since we launched about six years ago. If you look at the main audience that is on Spotify, a lot of them are former pirates... If we can get them on to a service that is free but legal, and they are contributing through our advertising on that free tier, then it is giving money back into the industry that they are just never going to get before.”

Spotify in Australia also apparently has a high rate of transition from free to paid subscriptions, beating the company's worldwide average. This suggests that at least for Spotify, any ongoing music piracy isn't having a detrimental impact on its business.

Spotify actually pushed a mandatory update to all its Android users this week, after a rogue piece of code allowed a security breach where apparently only a single user's account was compromised; any user who had offline playlists has to re-download all their synced files, as the update completely removes the old version and installs a new app in its place. [Australian Financial Review]

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    I can vouch for this. Always used to download music, never paid for it. Since I started using Google Play Music Streaming All Access whatever-the-hell-its-called, I haven't pirated a single song. Now do the same for TV/Movies, and I can stop sailing the seven seas altogether

      +1. I used to always download music and whatnot but since I found out about spotify 2 years ago it's my go-to place for music at home and out and about, on spotify premium. As for movies and whatnot I now use Netflix instead of downloading them.

      Agreed. I gave up the iPatch for Spotify (Premium). To be honest I was disappointed for the first three months with the apps having come for a local library in iTunes but now all the Spotify apps are top notch.

      Last edited 29/05/14 4:48 pm

    im using pandora a lot and i have "stolen" music for ages. it is a good argument against heavy handed action by governments and big business. make it available at a reasonable price and most people are happy to contribute. tell most humans they shouldn't do something and watch them rebel and do exactly what you have been trying to stop.

    Wait. Spotify is saying that offering cheap/free music, in a way we want it severely curbs piracy?!? No way! I would never have seen that coming! /s

    Second that, I never used to buy music. Now I have a paid version of Spotify. It's more convenient than pirating, especially for music on my phone, and makes finding new music really easy.

    It's really a great idea, and I do believe it has lowered the rate of piracy.
    For $11.99 a month, I have my music on all my devices, and can add new tracks throughout and they automatically synchronise, can find new songs in a heartbeat and better yet, find playlists other people have made to save me the work.

    Let's hope the TV and movie industries see this.

    A few years ago everyone I knew pirated their music, now the vast majority have some kind of streaming subscription like Spotify, Xbox Music or Google Play, or they're just buying through iTunes. Even the younger people who can't afford it seem to get subs or iTunes cards as gifts from family as they're easy no effort gifts. Who's still pirating?

    Unlike TV and movies, where most people I know still pirate a shitload, except for those like myself dodging geoblocks for Netflix/Hulu.

    Seems to be proof to me that people aren't all just about getting it for free, they're about ease of access and value for money.

    Now all we need is for Australian mobile providers to increase their data quotas and the NBN to be finished and all these streaming video and music services will almost completely remove piracy if they provide an affordable structure like RDIO and Spotify etc currently do.
    get rid of Foxtel's $100 a month for a decent bunch of packages and you can spend that on streaming the shows you actually want!

      MOG data is free on Telstra if that helps, which is really great, albeit the lesser of the main streaming services, until it becomes Beats Music at least. But the fact that you don't get billed for data on Telstra makes it an easy winner if you're a Telstra customer.

    meanwhile: artists are still making fuck all

      O rly?

        It's the guys at the other end of the pay-scale that are struggling (and you'd be surprised that there are some prominent artists that aren't top-40 material but still very popular, but barely making ends meet). And streaming services notoriously result in minimal revenue for the artist (though it seems that is more a product of record labels not distributing the revenue very generously).

        However, I'm yet to see a study that compares how much an artist is making with streaming services vs before streaming services. Sometimes I think that of the users streaming, 95% of them would have pirated the music previously, and before that not bought it at all (remember recording radio shows on cassettes anyone?).

        Last edited 29/05/14 4:52 pm

        If you bothered reading your own link, rather than just googling 'lol rich musicians 2013', you would see that the streaming royalties are a pittance.

        Bon Jovi: earned $30m, streaming $150k. And they are arguably the biggest band in the world.

        The fine print even states that the artists earn a touch over half a cent per song streamed. If you are interested in how badly they are remunerated for streaming, here:

        Take some smaller artist, like Zoe Keating (she released her statements as a google doc) who earned just five hundred bucks for 131,000 plays but $85k from a much smaller volume of digital sales and yes, his statement that they earn 'nothing' from Spotify seems pretty on the money.
        I love Spotify, but if I like something, I buy it. Preferably from Bandcamp or direct from the artist. Looping an album you love on Spotify might not be as bad as pirating it, but it's not really that far off it.

        Last edited 29/05/14 5:30 pm

          $150K is still better than the alternative - $0K that they see from piracy. Let's face it - too many products of the 'American Idol Generation' think "oh yeah, I'll get into music, I'll get famous, I'll make big bucks" - which is the wrong reason to get into music. Years ago musicians understood - you get into music for the love of it, and unless you're really lucky you probably won't get rich or even live 'comfortably'.

          I'm not saying these people aren't talented ... but ... there are lots of talented people in the world, and contrary to what Glee and Idol and a million shitty American movies will tell you, for most of them 'following that dream' isn't going to earn them a living, let alone make them famous.

          You want a stable income - get a shitty, sell-out, media / digital / advertising job like me. Hell, you can write radio jingles like Uncle Joey and Uncle Dave on Full House and still end up better off. You wanna be a rock star / pop star that's your choice - don't expect it to earn you a living unless you're super lucky, SUPER talented, super determined, and know the right people to blow ...

          Last edited 29/05/14 6:22 pm

    I know alot of people who used to pirate music no longer anymore thanks to things like Spotify. I also know alot of people who don't pirate movies and tv shows thanks to netflix. (Unless bypassing geo blocking is considered piracy, but still paying for it is better then torrenting it for free)

    Fancy that, give the customer what they want, and they pay for it!
    Seriously though, I've got Steam and Spotify, and since then I've always paid for games and music (subscription).
    Now I just need a TV/Movie service. I'd like to take up Netflix, and even then I'd like a Netflix type service that includes old stuff too, like 80s/90s/00s stuff I grew up on, not just the last few years. Someone please correct me if Netflix does in fact provide that.

      Netflix does infact have 80s/90s stuff too, if you can get it I highly recommend it.

        Ah awesome. I wasn't too sure seen as you only ever hear about House of Cards etc.
        Looks like Netflix has a new customer :)

    Yep. Spotify was actually easier than downloading music and provided a decent experience at an affordable price. Really, that's ALL people want.

      Yet movie studios seem to ignore this fact. Steam proved it works, Spotify proved it works, Netflix proved it works.

      Last edited 29/05/14 8:21 pm

    Who'd have thought? Give people a viable option and piracy drops. Amazing!!

    Film & TV industry take note.

    The real reason music piracy has dropped is because you can now buy individual songs. No one wanted to pay thirty dollars for an album just to get one or two songs. Streaming songs has got f#ck all to do with it.

      Very, very untrue.

        All the people I know that ever pirated music was because they didn't feel the need to buy a whole album just for one song. As soon as I could buy individual songs through play store, I stopped pirating. So did they.

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