Music festivals increase piracy, according to Spotify

on July 23, 2013, 5:34pm

performs during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2013

Spotify is looking to change the conversation following a contentious week in which Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich launched a “revolution” against the streaming music service over unfair royalty payments. Their solution? To publish a new study on music piracy and, more specifically, the affect music festivals have on illegal file sharing.

Their conclusion? “Our analysis uncovered some examples of torrents spiking immediately after festival performances.” No, seriously. According to the BBC, Spotify concluded “festivals increase demand for artists’ music, but that festival-goers mainly sample through unauthorized channels.”

Spotify also discovered that artists who do not immediately stream a new music release are far more likely to be pirated and do not see an increase in sales. However, those artists who simultaneously stream music and put it for sale are less likely to be pirated.

For example, One Direction’s album Take Me Home and Robbie Williams’ single “Candy”, both released on Spotify without a delay, sold four copies per BitTorrent download. On the other hand, Rihanna’s Unapologetic and Taylor Swift’s Red sold only one copy per BitTorrent download following a delayed release on Spotify (via TorrentFreak).

Spotify concluded:

“Spotify has been surprisingly successful in the Netherlands and our analysis supports previous academic studies which show falling levels of music piracy…

“Fourteen years after the launch of Napster, it has and always will take a combination of superior legal offerings to the consumer alongside effective public policy to improve the climate for copyright online.”

The counter to Spotify’s argument, of course, is that most artists probably stand to make more money playing a music festival than they would from a Spotify royalty check. And as Mumford and Sons can attest, the exposure can lead to increased sales after the fact. But, hey, I’m just playing devil’s advocate.

Photo by Douglas Mason


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Luca Mastrorocco
July 24, 2013 at 9:08 am

What an argument! Artists receive a very low cut streaming their tracks and they seriously talk about piracy?! simply fantastic!

Yung Gunshot
July 24, 2013 at 3:15 am

spotify is horrible but the bottom line is, artists can either make a VERY small profit from using it, or virtually no profit if they don’t.

July 24, 2013 at 12:32 am

Poor followup to the Yorke and Godrich argument. They explicitly said that they took their music off of spotify because the current subscription streaming system makes it hard for new artists to make a living and therefore discourages art in general. Highlighting the fact that artists like One Direction benefitted from putting their stuff on spotify is hardly a counterargument.

July 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm

how does spotify suck?

July 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Sort of a straw man argument from Spotify…Just because a festival increases demand for a band’s music doesn’t mean it’s the festival’s fault that the band is readily available on BitTorrent.

July 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm

this article is horrible and a waste of writing!!! ps spotify sucks


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