IFPI Says 95% of Music Downloads Are Illegal
from the but-then-they-would,-wouldn't-they dept
The IFPI, the international equivalent of the RIAA, has put out new stats claiming that only 5 percent of all music downloads in 2008 were legal. The group estimated that 40 billion tracks were shared illegally last year, or an average of almost 30 songs for every internet user worldwide. The IFPI says it arrived at that estimate by “collating separate studies in 16 countries over a three-year period,” so it’s not really clear just how accurate it is — and of course, the higher the figure, the better, as far as the IFPI’s efforts to get governments to be their copyright police are concerned. The IFPI says that global music revenues fell by 7% last year, blaming the drop on falling CD sales, which a 25% increase in digital sales couldn’t overcome. The IFPI says piracy is the biggest challenge it faces; given the stats, the real challenge seems to be record labels’ inability to move past its legacy business model and adapt to consumers’ changing desires.
It’s hard to give much credence to the IFPI report, given the way it plays with statistics. For instance, in the press release for the report, the IFPI tries to pin the blame on piracy for a downturn in the “local music sectors” of France and Spain. It backs this up by saying that new French and Spanish artists accounted for a smaller percentage of album releases in 2008 than they had before. What about established French and Spanish artists? And does a lack of new local artists have more to do with downloading, or problems with labels in how they do business, and find and promote new talent? Furthermore, when the album is declining in popularity compared to singles, and new artists more likely to take advantage of this by targeting the singles market, is this even a legitimate metric for this purpose? These IFPI stats should be taken with a large grain of salt, and their intended purpose — to further the group’s goal to get governments and ISPs to prop up record labels’ outmoded business models — should be considered.