Biz Q&A: IFPI CEO Frances Moore On Expanding The Global Music Business

A barrister by training, Frances Moore was appointed CEO of global trade body IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) in July 2010, having previously headed IFPI's European regional office in Brussels, where she led the music industry's representation to the European Union.

Based in IFPI's London headquarters, Moore is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the organization's international and regional strategies, which center on anti-piracy enforcement and representing the music industry's interests at all levels of government and commerce. IFPI - which has over 1,400 members in 66 countries and affiliated industry associations in 56 countries, and regional offices in Brussels, Hong Kong and Miami - is also one of the industry's most authoritative sources of market research, producing comprehensive annual reports on leading global markets and trade revenues. Speaking exclusively to Billboard.biz ahead of the Feb. 26 publication of IFPI's annual "Digital Music Report," Frances Moore outlines why she believes the music business is "on the road to recovery" and what needs to happen next.    

Billboard.biz: How do you view the overall health of the global music industry at present?
Frances Moore: We said last year that, in regards to the industry, (there was) optimism, but no room for complacency, and I think our optimism has proved right. If you look back at the figures for the first six months of 2012, the industry is something like 1% down - the smallest fall since 2004. So in a sense, we do seem to be on the road to recovery and the momentum is really building again. Over the last couple of years, what we have seen in the industry is a tremendous amount of resilience and great innovation.

What are IFPI's chief strategic aims and focuses for the year ahead?
Our job is to continue to create the right environment to help the industry grow. That means keep fighting off the illegal sites in order to allow legal businesses to develop. There are some places in the world that we still don't have [performance and broadcast] rights, and we continue to fight [in those markets] to develop the rights. And then there's the whole issue of copyright reform.

In regards to copyright reform, there are calls at both the European and international levels to revise existing copyright legislation. What's IFPI's position on revision of copyright law?    
Copyright is an area where, to some degree, we're having to play defensive. What we have in the market at present is a recovery. Obviously, that depends on copyright. It's a really crucial moment because there are vested interests that see copyright as a blockage, stifling innovation [and] smothering development. Their basic [complaint] is that they have to pay for content, and there are those who suggest there should be exceptions. That's quite a big battle. I

t's just started at the EU level, with a  series of working groups [investigating] whether copyright law needs to be revised. Of course, when you revise copyright it's very seldom to strengthen it. And it's been made clear by those vested interests that if they can achieve this in Europe - the soft underbelly, so to speak - then, of course, they are going to go after it in other parts of the world. Our view is that you don't just do a radical reform of copyright. You look carefully at where the problems are supposed to lie and if those problems really are because of copyright [law] then how can they be solved? 

A key focus for IFPI has long been the fight against piracy. What progress is being made and what obstacles remain?
We have got website blocking in place in 12 countries. That really does affect traffic [to illegal sites], which has dropped by up to 75% where [blocks are] applied. The U.K. and Netherlands are good examples of that. In other markets, we have got the copyright alert system [being introduced] in the U.S. Hadopi in France. [Legislative systems operating] in New Zealand and South Korea, and what you see there is those markets having the chance to breathe. And then there's other players, such as advertisers and search engines, that we think have to be socially responsible.

Presumably one of those players is Google, which IFPI has been campaigning to prioritize licensed content providers over unlicensed sites. What developments have been made there? 
We had some good news last year when Google said that it could change its [search] algorithm. In the past it said it couldn't. But now Google says that, in fact, it could change its algorithm to help deprioritize illegal sites. It's not an ideal solution. We're still working with them to get better, but at least it's a step forward. 

We're working too with payment providers, in order to make sure that they dry up funds to illegal services. And then there's the whole area of advertising and drawing brands attention to the fact that they are advertising on illegal sites. Those are areas where we can really do something to just create a bigger patch of clean ground for the legal services to be able to develop.

The number of countries passing anti-piracy legislation has significantly slowed in the past 18 months. Do you fear that momentum has been lost?   
I wouldn't say [so]. The laws are still being applied in a number of countries at present. In the U.S., the alert system is about to come into effect. Hadopi recently made an announcement that it is to continue and extend its activity. Because there has been, in our opinion, such a big, aggressive outcry against doing anything at all in regards to enforcement, it's quite hard to get any new measures on the table at the moment, but we have to wait and see. The ones that are there are clearly working. 

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