Did online piracy really hurt music sales in 2011?
The digital music and video industries have been under increasingly scrutiny in recent weeks because of the US government's SOPA anti-piracy legislation. Now the UK's British Phonographic Industry (BPI) have released figures that prove piracy is to blame for all their woes... or does it?
The figures released today and reported by the BBC show that overall CD album sales were down 13% on 2010's figures to 86.2 million discs. The figures also showed that the sales of digital albums climbed 24% to a total of 26.6 million in the same period. The BPI said that the decline in album sales was the result of piracy, and they went on to blame the British government for not doing enough to tackle it.
Now you can't compare one percentage with another as both will have begun from a different base, so let's do some maths. A sales drop of 13% would have made 2010's CD album sales a total of 99.1 million and a rise of 24% in digital album sales would have made for total sales in 2010 of 21.4 million. This would make total album sales in 2010 120.5 million.
The BPI are claiming however that total album sales in 2011 of 112.8 which is only slightly down on the previous year is all due to piracy. Technically the BPI are correct but only in so far as overall sales are down. Banging their drum about piracy being the cause when online digital sales rose by a quarter (which frankly is a huge sales leap in any industry) just goes to show how behind the times the music and movie industries really are.
People having to tighten their budgets, or finding new ways to buy and consume their music is a much more likely explanation for the sales drop. The BBC said...
"People now buy the individual songs they like rather than buying the whole album because they like a single," said Philip Buxton, an independent digital media consultant. "So they might buy the single and then use services like Spotify and Lastfm to listen to the other tracks and are then much more selective about what they purchase. "The implication for the record industry is that they need to embrace this new model rather than fight it."
This reported 6% drop in overall sales will be seen by many as a smokescreen created by major multi-nationals who are feeling their pockets squeezed when they're not fully embracing the new ways that people want to consume their music and video. It's similar to the banks claiming to be hard done by after being bailed out by taxpayers worldwide, just ask the Occupy Wall Street protesters how they feel about that!
The BPI's Chief Executive, Geoff Taylor told the BBC "While other countries take positive steps to protect their creative sector, our government is taking too long to act on piracy, while weakening copyright to the benefit of the US tech giants."
Ultimately though SOPA has brought the whole issue of piracy and copyright theft back into the public consciousness and it's unlikely that the general public worldwide will be sympathetic. I may be wrong and you might disagree with me, but it's widely considered that the music and video industries are failing to keep up with the demands of consumers.
What are your views on this? Do you think that the music and movie companies are delivering content in the way that suits you best?Advertisement