It’s often said the music industry needs to show consumers a carrot while they give them the stick. Anti-piracy measures – the stick – have had mixed or no results in most countries. Legal alternatives to piracy – the carrot – exist but often fail to excite consumers.
Sweden may have the best carrot-and-stick system in the world thanks to Ipred, the tough anti-piracy legislation passed last year, and hot music service Spotify. The Ipred law went into effect around the same time Spotify hit the market. Although piracy returned to normal levels after an initial drop, music sales improved through the end of the year.
Spotify is behind “a continued positive trend” in Swedish digital music revenue, says Universal Music Sweden’s Per Sundin in an article at The Swedish Wire. He expects digital sales to grow from 16% of sales in 2009 to 25% in 2010. Stefan Blom of EMI Sweden says digital music should account for 20% of his sales in 2010.
Previously released IFPI figures tell a positive story in Sweden in 2009: recorded music sales up 10.2%, CD sales up 1.9% and digital sales up 98.6%. Sweden and South Korea, which also passed anti-piracy legislation, were two of the five countries that had increases in physical recorded music sales in 2009, according to the IFPI.
One item from the article not seen elsewhere offers an indication of Spotify’s impact last year: streaming services accounted for 46% of all legally downloaded music, up from 17% in 2008. (In this case, the word “download” means both digital downloads and streams.)
These rays of hope receive little attention but have not gone completely unnoticed. Universal Music Group Distribution president and CEO Jim Urie spoke of this graduated response success and a desire for action in the U.S. during his speech in accepting NARM’s Presidential Award for Sustained Executive Achievement earlier this month.
“The results have been nothing short of amazing,” he said of new legislation in Sweden, South Korea and France. And he argued that similar measures are needed in the U.S. “In this country we need a graduated response policy from ISPs or legislation from our government,” Urie said. “And we need it now.”