Swedish Study Shows File Sharing And Music Buying Go Hand-In-Hand

from the also:-spotify-is-HUGE dept

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 Four 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.

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Comments on “Swedish Study Shows File Sharing And Music Buying Go Hand-In-Hand”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I have to say that these studies all tend to ignore one thing: People who share music also tend to be putting more of their time into music, and as such, as the most likely buyers.

In times without widespread file sharing, these would be the mega-fans, buying plenty of music.

Considering recorded music sales (including online) are down 58% since the inception of Napster, I would say that any claim that piracy helps is completely, totally debunked.

Anonymous Coward says:


In times without widespread file sharing, these would be the mega-fans, buying plenty of music.

File sharing is how people younger than you discover new songs. It works the same as that “radio” thing that you guys used to have. Remember? You’d hear a song on the radio (for free!), and then buy a vinyl record of the song.
As such, people would be buying less music without widespread file sharing.

Considering recorded music sales (including online) are down 58% since the inception of Napster, I would say that any claim that piracy helps is completely, totally debunked.

That’s a very specific number. Where are you quoting it from?

Anonymous Coward says:


Let me add this: The effects of piracy likely aren’t are strong with the major music fans, but perhaps more strongly felt in the secondary tier – those are perhaps people who pirate for more selfish reasons, and less about connecting with anything – they just want tunes for their pod.

Sales are so far off, clearly SOMEONE isn’t buying. Pointing to a narrow group and saying “they still buy, piracy isn’t a problem” is utter bullshit.

Jay (profile) says:


No, pirates stole it.

It seems you need research in this area. Allow me to help you here:

Gaming – Valve – Piracy is a service issue

Notch – Piracy is not theft

Humble Indie Bundle – Still going strong even with torrents and downloads by illegitimate sites

Gog – Get rid of DRM, make customers happy

OC Remix – Giving away free entertainment for greater rewards

Movies – Michael D Smith – Lack of legal channels leads to piracy. Also, Notice the title of his paper

Crowdfunding is working for movies

Research – Piracy increases quality of content

The Copyright Wars – Seeing how increased litigation is affecting everyday American’s lives and causing hyper awareness of the problem of copyright.

If you want, I could go further. But it seems to me that you may need to read a little bit more on piracy and copyright law.

Anonymous Coward says:


Well just like the nonsense about how numbers are down, of course CD sales are down, nobody buys CD’s anymore, people buy MP3 and those cost a tenth of the price of a CD so it is just a miracle that those sales are not even more low.

But when people look at the overall sales, apparently the industry has no problems since they grew every year since Napster is that not beautiful?

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:


Or they are buying from people not alligned with your precious RIAA and MPAA. There are now a lot of indie artists that aren’t signed up with labels, and they are making money.

Most ‘pirates’ are savvy enough to understand that buying a record or online download from a label-sponsored artist, almost nothing goes to the pocket of said artist. Most ‘pirates’ have enough grudges against the labels, that they don’t want to be seen supporting those companies financially.

So, those ‘pirates’ then go to indies and buy from them.

Or wait till they can get a second-hand cd from somewhere. Because no money from that sale goes to the label.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:


People only have so much disposable income to spend on media.
(if they have any at all)
And now you have a market where store-bought video games cost about 50 bucks a game, that’s a lot of records you could buy. Though even that is a bit of a stretch, as the prices of most cds haven’t gone down much since the introduction of the pressed cd.

Paul says:


I think artists got too confourtable siting at home and making money of selling records, f*** you I’m not spending money on something I can get for free.

You want to make money make me pay for a ticket to a concert I will do it gladly… Oh… I’m sorry 90% of this “artists” can’t perform live in a concert.
So on WTF am I spending money on???

Anonymous Coward says:


Sorry, gotta call bullshit on this.

Worldwide, recorded music sales (including) from from around 35 billion (2000) to slightly less than 15 billion (2010 using IFPI reports from each of those years). In some markets, increases in ticket prices (but not really attendance) to live shows has somewhat made up the gap, but it appears to be a short term deal, as in 2010 concert sales and ticket prices both took a turn for the toilet.

This would go against the “selling the scarce” theory that people would just take their recorded music money and instead pay for tickets. The reality appears to be more than the top acts were already doing as many dates as they could, and the only variable was ramping up ticket costs. What it has done is price them out of the reach of the average fan, breaking the cycle entirely.

I would love to see your source for numbers… so [citation needed}

Anonymous Coward says:



The numbers from 2006~2011

To get the older numbers you need to register with the IFPI and pay them, which is not going to happen, if they want to claim damages they should be posting those numbers all over the place instead they stopped public publication because people were finding discrepancies in their numbers.

Anonymous Coward says:


Sorry that you are so full of shite.

Total revenues have grown, apparently live shows even offset the loses in physical sales(i.e. CD’s), also there are reasons why people stopped buying, first the major market for music started an “educational campaign”(i.e. suing customers), for some reason it was short lived and produced a very sharp decline in sales, a recession gripped the world and it is still ongoing, the financial crisis in the market plus outsourcing practically guaranteed that people don’t have disposable income anymore, there are others things people pay attention now, music is just a commodity but unlike grains they are not vital or essential for human existence, people can’t eat music, they can’t wear music, they can’t get warm from music on a cold night, so it is no surprise that maybe people are using the little money they still have to buy those other things you know those things that are important to survival.

Historically arts only flourish where there is a working class to support it, disposable income goes down so does expending on arts, so it is no surprise that even though Americans are buying less somewhere else in the world people are expending more on it and the total revenues globally keep growing and they grow in regions that have zero protections against piracy so piracy can’t be the problem because one can even say that piracy is what is driving the growth in those markets, because they keep growing so fast.

Nollywood, Bollywood and China are just but a few of markets where there are no “protections” and they still see growth, the porn industry just proved that one can become big without any protections whatsoever, apparently nobody supports porn but everybody keeps consuming it.

You can’t explain why in places where “piracy” the imaginary construct is rampant people can see phenomenal growth and I doubt you can explain why in industries where there is no protections whatsoever like in the restaurant business where everyone can copy a recipe from anyone mega corporations have emerged.

That is why you are full of shite.
That is why granting monopolies to people like you is just bad and evil, buskers should be able to use anything on the market to make a living, others artists should not have problems finding a place to play or have to pay another bum that does no real work but claim “intellectual property” on something. A monopoly that last life + 95 years is not only absurd is just immoral, the little details like control over derivatives are a barrier and a threat to business everywhere and so is the fraking “non-literal-copying” crap that basically blurred what is legal and what is not making it almost impossible to have any certainty or safety in what one does, is so risky that every artists should open a LLC to try and shield themselves from all the full burden of liabilities that plague the place, which of course exclude any small “guy” out there and when people use it you muppets scream foul play. That is not to talk about fiscal paradises that normal US citizens don’t even know what they are.

PaulT (profile) says:


You know, these discussions would be a lot easier if you understood things like words and logical arguments.

Here, for example, the AC above you is clearly noting that there’s a lot more money going into other industries that compete with music (games and home video markets are demonstrably far more lucrative than they were 15 years ago), while also noting that unbundling has led to albums being far less popular than they once were.

You seem to think that this means that he’s saying that those industries were suddenly invented and that albums aren’t made.

One of you is an idiot, and I’m afraid it’s not him.

Karl (profile) says:

Sales are NOT down

Hey, trolls, can you at least come up with some facts to support your opinions?

Music purchases are not down, and have never gone down:
Music Purchases and Net Revenue For Artists Are Up, Gross Revenue for Labels is Down
A Big Music Year for Jackson, Boyle, Swift, Digital Downloads? and Vinyl?
Broken Records: Music Sales for Albums and Digital Tracks up in First Half of 2011

What has declined is profits from music purchases. This has nothing to do with fewer purchases, but the type of purchases that are made. More people are buying digital tracks, and more people are buying them a la carte rather than as complete albums.

In other words, what has caused the decline in music profits is not lack of sales, not piracy, but the shift from physical media to the digital format, and the “de-bundling” of songs from albums.

And, by the way, which consumers spend the most money on digital music? That’s right, the pirates:
Downloading ‘myths’ challenged
Gov’t Commissioned Study Finds P2P Downloaders Buy More Music
Study finds file-sharers buy ten times more music
Illegal downloaders ‘spend the most on music’, says poll

Naturally, labels and studios are trying to bury this fact:
Movie industry buries report proving pirates are great consumers
Pirates Are The Music Industry?s Most Valuable Customers

Now, obviously, nobody can claim that the increase in purchases was due to piracy. It’s likely that people pirate and purchase for the same reason: they simply value music more than others.

But there’s no evidence that they would make more purchases if piracy was not an option.

And if your goal is to encourage them to continue valuing music, treating them like “parasites” and “criminals” is exactly the wrong way to do it. In fact, the severe decline in music profits began only after Napster was shut down (purchases – and profits – increased between 1999-2001), and the lawsuits against file sharers became widespread news.

So, the severe actions against file sharers almost certainly hurt the labels’ bottom line more than file sharing did in the first place. For them, the solution was worse than the problem – just like it was for everyone else.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:


This is why I say that SOPA is about control. The labels could control radio (payola, and just how many independent artists have you heard over the years on radio and tv?), but they can’t control the Internet.

The labels are deathly afraid that you’re going to buy from independent artists instead of the artists that the labels approve off.

Anonymous Coward says:


I see your point and while I tend (somewhat) to disagree with you, perhaps people are not buying because much of the music is bad.
There have been some wonderful music made in just the last year but the pop music tends to be a one hit wonder or just bad.

What confuses me is that, almost everyone I know buys music (Mostly off iTunes instead of a Wallmart, etc.) and that should be making someone happy.

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