Angry Birds’ Mikael Hed: Piracy Means Exposure

    January 30, 2012
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

Angry Birds, if you haven’t heard, is a widely popular mobile game that allows you to fling (pissed off) birds at smug little pigs, destroying a bunch of stuff in the process. It’s a whole lot of fun and is one of the most popular games in the world.

Part of that successl, according to Rovio CEO Mikael Hed, can be traced to learning from the music industry’s mistakes.

Speaking at the Midem conference in Cannes on Monday, Hed had this to say:

We have some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products. There is tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products.

We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy.

Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day

Basically Hed said that they employ the strategy that says piracy = exposure. If you’re confident in the product, you can be confident that as more people experience it, profits will increase. One theory is that is something is good enough, people will want to pay money for it. Another says that creating fans of your product, even through piracy, can lead to eventual business somewhere down the road.

And to Hed, this has something to do with thinking about customers as “fans” as opposed to users – something the music industry actually got right:

We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans. We do that today: we talk about how many fans we have. If we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow.

Of course, saying that the music industry mishandled the topic of piracy doesn’t stop Hed from speculating about ways that Angry Birds can work with them in the future. He feels that Angry Birds has become an official “channel” for content – and that can be leveraged to form partnerships with the industry.

What do you think about Hed’s approach to piracy. Can piracy really lead to more business in the end? Let us know in the comments.

  • http://www.LAokay.com Steven G

    It all comes down to being able to give something away for free so that nobody can make money on it, while adding monetization to the product itself. An example would be free streaming of any song or movie in Sony’s catalog, but you have to listen or watch 10-30 second ads between each song. If you buy into a paid monthly subscription then no ads. Sounds simple enough.

  • π-rat

    you seriously didn’t get the idea at all.

  • Lucas

    Just look at Steve Lieber’s comic book Underground. Almost immediately after his entire comic book was scanned and uploaded onto 4chan it’s sales skyrocketed like they never had before. He has in the since then advocated for piracy as it promotes rather than hinders te sale of music and video.


    His goddamn right.
    With ACTA corporate management have just one purpose-TO KEEP HIS OUN BIG SALARY, PARKLOTS, BENEFITS…
    And for artist-ZERO! Between 12-15 % from profit.
    Soon you lose all your freedom, you dumb northamericans, but im OK with that.

  • anon

    My dog wouldn’t have 5 angry bird toys if I hadn’t pirated the game so yes, I would say his logic is 100% correct. Same w/ music and movies. I can download that movie or album but I can’t exactly download that T-shirt now can I? And if I haven’t seen the movie or heard that band, then what the hell do I need the shirt for?

    • anon

      And besides, when little fangirls and fanboys are really into all this music they listen too, all the merchandise they buy is going to add up to a lot more $ than that same kid buying the cds. cds are like what 13,15$ now-a-days? Those band t-shirts cost 20+$ a pop without fail and they release several designs for each album. special collector box sets, wallets, posters….LOOK AT ALL THE $$$$$$$$$$$$