With the popularity of Spotify growing daily, especially since the Facebook partnership announcement, does this mean the service also represents an honest-to-goodness alternative for would-be music pirates?
If reports from Sweden are extrapolated out to the rest of Internet-using population, the streaming music service may very well be an effective replacement for those who normally download their music. According to a report from TorrentFreak, ever since the launch of Spotify in Sweden -- the country where the service was created -- publicly in 2009, music pirating from the Swedish population has dropped by 25 percent. The studies were conducted by the Swedish Music industry, and aside from the noticeable drop in pirating, Spotify's music service is, as well as others like it, are credited with the pirating decrease.
In fact, Spotify's launch is directly attributed to decrease:
When Spotify opened up to the public early 2009, it took only three months before the number of Spotify users had outgrown the number of music pirates. In the months after that the number of downloaders continued to decline while Spotify expanded its user base.
Furthermore, the report reveals streaming services like Spotify are the preferred method of accessing music, outgrowing those who download music legally:
More than 40 percent of the participants in the survey now use a music streaming service, compared to less than 10 percent who say they download music legally.
TorrentFreak's report features quotes from Music Sweden’s CEO Elizabet Widlund who also praises Spotify directly for the decrease:
"The long-term trend is a sharp increase in legal streaming while we see a reduction in illegal file sharing and downloading. When 800,000 Swedes are willing to pay for streaming music, there is clearly a market for more legal players in the digital music market..."
The idea here is amazingly simple: if you give potential consumers access a vast library of music they can pick and choose from, and you offer a version of that service free of charge, supported largely by non-intrusive ads, these same consumers will be less likely to resort to downloading.
Granted, there are those who equate supporting the music industry as being akin to supporting the RIAA, and therefore, they are going to download regardless of what kind of service is being offered. Well, except for that make believe service offering legally free downloads to any and everyone, copyrighted music or no. If such a service existed, the anti-RIAA crowd would probably use it.
Oddly enough, the RIAA and other governing bodies could've ended the download craze if they would've simply bought Napster and charged $5 a month for unlimited downloads, but I digress.
Sadly, it took over 10 years for other services to pop up, services that essentially offer the same thing I suggested with Napster. Nevertheless, Spotify is here now, as is Pandora, SoundCloud and Groveshark. As a result of these services, pirating music is decreasing. Who would've thought such a thing?
Certainly not the RIAA.