It's an argument often made here at Techdirt: file sharers aren't always just leeches on the underside of content creators. Very often, they are true music fans constantly patrolling the cutting edge of music. A study released by Sweden's Internet Infrastructure Foundation
shows that, among other things, Spotify is certifiably big with younger internet users
(85% of those aged 16-25 use Spotify) along with some other interesting statistics:
In Sweden, Spotify usage is even running ahead of use of community sites, IM, blog reading and game playing.
One in three people (37%) listen to Spotify during a month, which is twice as many as file sharing (18%) and many more than those who buy a CD (9%) or pay per song (4%) during a month.
Spotify's enormous market share no doubt is related to it being a truly "native" application, and while it is definitely more popular with the under-25 crowd, it still is popular enough to supplant other internet activities including "use of community sites, IM, blog reading and game playing."
Of course, Sweden also gave the world the Pirate Party, so it's also unsurprising that file sharing is bigger than ever, with 21% of those surveyed indicating that they share on a regular basis. But it's not all bad news for the music industry. On top of near universal adoption of fully legal streaming via Spotify, the report also indicates that file sharers are on par with non-file sharers when it comes to purchasing music:
"If we compare file-sharers with those who do not share files, we find that there is no difference in how often they buy CDs. However, a larger percentage of file sharers pay to download individual songs than those who do not share files."
In fact, it looks as if file sharers may be purchasing more
music than their non-sharing counterparts. In fact, despite the fact that the Pirate Party originated in Sweden, the outlook for Sweden's recording industry has been on the upswing since 2009, when it posted a 10.2% gain. Most of this was due to streaming services, which accounted for nearly 50% of Swedish music revenue.
The Swedish arm of the IFPI also credits new legislation
with the reduction in file sharing, along with the new streaming services. According to its numbers, 6 out 10 file sharers either stopped or reduced their sharing in response to the legislation.
No matter which angle you view this from, using the IFPI's numbers or the Internet Infrastructure Foundation's, it's obvious that well-crafted legal streaming services are taking a bite out of file sharing. If the Big
Three labels and the major studios want to continue to convert the next generation of customers to legal services, they need to get behind services like Spotify, Netflix, etc. rather than cripple them by withholding content or pricing themselves out of the market. It's also nice to see another set of numbers reaffirming the fact that many file sharers are still buying music, despite having access to cheaper, free-er options.