We got a few questions about our earlier post on music piracy. More specifically, many were wondering why it is that streaming services seem to be an effective solution.
Platforms like Spotify have become quite popular over the past few years. According to November 2016 stats, Spotify has nearly 100 million users and 40 million paid subscribers. There’s a catalog of over 30 million songs to choose from, and Spotify has paid out nearly five billion dollars to labels and artists for music rights.
All of this sounds impressive, but there’s another aspect of music streaming that doesn’t get spoken about frequently. This aspect is the effect that streaming has had on piracy. Research suggests that streaming services have led to a significant reduction in illegal music downloads and here are the main reasons why.
Easy Access to Music
This one is a no-brainer. When people have easy access to music, they’re much less likely to turn to torrents and other illegal download options.
The European Commission confirms the effectiveness of streaming when it comes to reducing illegal downloads.
According to a Commission report, every 47 Spotify streams have come to replace one illegal download. The authors conclude that Spotify and other streaming services have started displacing music piracy due to the ease of access that they ensure.
As already mentioned in the introduction, artists are making money from every live stream because Spotify has to acquire the rights. While the sum is lower than what artists would make in the case of CD or iTunes sales, streaming services are making money from people who previously didn’t contribute to any expenditure in terms of buying legal music.
Free for the Audience
Spotify lures people with yet another feature. On top of the simplicity and the access to the vast music catalog, it offers a free of charge service.
Depending on individual preferences, people who use the service can opt either for a paid or a free profile.
The free profile comes with a couple of downsides. Ads are included and played between the tracks. Offline music listening isn’t available either. Still, listeners can access their favorite music without spending a single cent and without having to look for torrents featuring their favorite artists. The fact that the quality of the service is sufficiently high and that it’s free of charge is yet another reason why streaming is starting to turn the tables.
A Service That’s Better than Piracy
There are many theories about what it would take to get rid of piracy forever. While the suggestions vary significantly from one expert to another, most authorities in the field agree on the same thing. They believe that restrictions and fines aren’t going to get the job done.
Torrent services like Pirate Bay have been shut down multiple times. Such measures have solely offered a temporary relief from their impact. Sooner or later, torrent sites resurface.
This is one of the reasons why the general consensus focuses on the provision of a better service. If people can access music, films, and other files effortlessly, they’ll be much less likely to engage in illegal downloads.
One caveat is that not all streaming services may be available in every country. In those situations consumers have three options. They can either opt for a different service, wait until their country is offered or use a VPN provider to access the geo-blocked content. The legality of the latter is a little questionable. If that’s a road your would like to explore, you can read about it on Fastest VPN Guide’s Tumblr and make a decision for yourself.
The above is also true for just about any other type of online streaming service, not just music. Every Netflix uses has, at one point or another, used a VPN to access the library from another country. How content is geo-blocked often seems arbitrary, and VPNs are an easy solution.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said that the main aim of the company was to offer a high-quality service. Once the goal was accomplished, it was much easier to convince people that illegal music downloads were simply not worth it.
The quality of the service is indeed high. Spotify members get access to crisp audio, playlists and millions of artists to choose from. The music library is so rich that it evens features local and indie performers. There’s something for everyone to enjoy. When people get such an offer, they’re less likely to look for an illegal alternative.
While music streaming services are having an impact on the music industry and reshaping the way in which musicians make money, they’re also curbing piracy effectively. Whether this positive trend is to continue is yet to be seen. One thing is certain – torrents have a massive competitor who’s here to stay and potentially grow bigger in the future.