Music festivals increase piracy, according to Spotify


performs during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2013

Spotify is looking to change the conversation following a contentious week in which Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich launched a “revolution” against the streaming music service over unfair royalty payments. Their solution? To publish a new study on music piracy and, more specifically, the affect music festivals have on illegal file sharing.

Their conclusion? “Our analysis uncovered some examples of torrents spiking immediately after festival performances.” No, seriously. According to the BBC, Spotify concluded “festivals increase demand for artists’ music, but that festival-goers mainly sample through unauthorized channels.”

Spotify also discovered that artists who do not immediately stream a new music release are far more likely to be pirated and do not see an increase in sales. However, those artists who simultaneously stream music and put it for sale are less likely to be pirated.

For example, One Direction’s album Take Me Home and Robbie Williams’ single “Candy”, both released on Spotify without a delay, sold four copies per BitTorrent download. On the other hand, Rihanna’s Unapologetic and Taylor Swift’s Red sold only one copy per BitTorrent download following a delayed release on Spotify (via TorrentFreak).

Spotify concluded:

“Spotify has been surprisingly successful in the Netherlands and our analysis supports previous academic studies which show falling levels of music piracy…

“Fourteen years after the launch of Napster, it has and always will take a combination of superior legal offerings to the consumer alongside effective public policy to improve the climate for copyright online.”

The counter to Spotify’s argument, of course, is that most artists probably stand to make more money playing a music festival than they would from a Spotify royalty check. And as Mumford and Sons can attest, the exposure can lead to increased sales after the fact. But, hey, I’m just playing devil’s advocate.

Photo by Douglas Mason