95% Music Downloads Illegal, Industry Grows Nevertheless

IFPI submits some interesting facts and typically contradictory conclusions in its annual music report.

Thought the introduction of DRM free music and the seemingly huge sales of iTunes, Amazon MP3 and the like were finally making an impression on piracy? Don’t be daft…

A report from industry body the IFPI has today declared that while “music companies embrace new revenue models, offering consumers more choice” 95 per cent of music downloads remain unauthorised with no payment to artists and producers. More ominously/predictably, the IFPI also calls for 2009 to be the year ISPs team up with the music industry to fight this.

“The recorded music industry is reinventing itself and its business models,” explained IFPI chairman and chef executive John Kennedy. “Music companies have changed their whole approach to doing business, reshaped their operations and responded to the dramatic transformation in the way music is distributed and consumed.”

“There is a momentous debate going on about the environment on which our business, and all the people working in it, depends,” he continued. “Governments are beginning to accept that, in the debate over ‘free content’ and engaging ISPs in protecting intellectual property rights, doing nothing is not an option if there is to be a future for commercial digital content.”

To be fair, this is rather melodramatic. There will always be commercial digital content and there will always be piracy. For many, no matter how good the model nothing can compete with ”free”. Furthermore, basing its study over a three year period seems daft when the real innovation has only come in the last 12/18 months. It would have been more interesting to see figures for this period only.

On top of this the IFPI admits the digital music business internationally “saw a sixth year of expansion in 2008, growing by an estimated 25 per cent to US$3.7 billion in trade value” and that “recorded music is at the forefront of the online and mobile revolution, generating more revenue in percentage terms through digital platforms than the newspaper (4%), magazine (1%) and film industries (4%) combined.”

Getting ISPs to snoop on their customers isn’t the answer, continued innovation and development is. Personally I always liked the idea of a BBC style fee enforced per country were every single person paid a compulsory £2/3 per month and all music was free. In reality it would likely be far too difficult to implement but that would be the end of piracy…

Anyone else have any grand solutions?

Press Release
Full Report (PDF Warning)

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