Industry Roundup: Tech Giants Block Music Piracy

Meanwhile, we look at Thom Yorke's Spotify protest and how the indie labels are taking a bigger share of the market than ever.

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Two big stories dominate the industry headlines this week: technology giants like Google and AOL making steps towards blocking the flow of money to media pirates, and Thom Yorke taking his Atoms for Peace album off Spotify.

The latter has been a hot debate - where do you stand on the Spotify issue? Take the debate to the comments if you have an opinion.

Tech giants try to ban advertising on piracy sites

The dominant anti-piracy theory today is this: if you cut off the flow of money, the pirate kings will quit.

Every torrent site you visit will often have banner ads, and there's big money in it with the kind of traffic that these torrent sites pull. But some have questioned why companies like Google can't do more to take their ad networks off these sites and potentially stop piracy for good.

Now the major tech companies have taken action, with Google, Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo among those who said they will start to remove ads if they're notified by rights-holders.

It's not ideal - this means that you as a rights holder needs to go and tell them about the piracy in the first place, but as you can imagine, it's not easy for these companies to track illegal pages either. Not that they'd make much effort to take down ads that make themselves money, but they can never admit to that if it were true.

Why is Thom Yorke protesting against Spotify?

While the above news about technology companies may be the most significant news today, the most hotly debated has got to be Thom Yorke's refusal to support Spotify and streaming platforms. He and producer Nigel Godrich took their music off the service this week, citing a lack of support for new music and favouring old major labels who get an unfair cut because of the size of their back catalogues.

"Some records can be made in a laptop, but some need musician[s] and skilled technicians. These things cost money if people had been listening to Spotify instead of buying records in 1973, I doubt very much if 'Dark Side...' would have been made. It would just be too expensive, said Godrich.

He went on to accuse the labels of having secret deals with Spotify which give them favourable royalty rates.

Their move has prompted every corner of the music industry to respond, including Spotify boss Daniel Ek, the company itself, and every self-professed commentator from across the blogosphere. Here's where people are divided: Spotify doesn't pay much today, but maybe it will over time. And when there are enough subscribers, that income will start to work for new music - at least, in theory.

But when you think about how the supply of music far exceeds demand available, there's always going to be losers - and if your music isn't truly great, it's going to find it hard to stand out against all the other good music.

Indie Labels Grab 34.4 percent market share

Great news for independent music: indie labels have taken a record share of the market with 34.4 percent, based on master ownership (not distribution - the majors would sweep the floor in that category).

Last year they were at 32.9 percent, so it's a good sign for indies. It might be a clue that the majors are investing less in new music, but overall a shift towards more variety from independent suppliers is a great thing for supporting a vibrant music industry.

What's your view on today's topics? Let us know in the comments.

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I use spotify as much as possible instead of pirating. I cant afford to buy$20 CD's all the time
    Maybe the cd's price will be lower... And since I've always bought original cds, that's good!
    So now Thom Yorke is against streaming? He was always pretty pro-free music as far as I recall.
    He's not against streaming, he's against companies benefiting from bands' music, with the band gaining almost nothing, and a decreasing chance for newer artists to gain the exposure they need, or the money they deserve for their music, due to the dominance of these bigger labels.
    im just speculating, that how appreciated would a band be who seed their own discography torrent, *ask* their fans to watch the youtube video sometimes to buy them a few beers and only considering their albums relics/collectibles... this piracy hassle is like a director bitching about nobody wanting to pay money to get a copy of the script of his/her movie
    UG you are the kings of misleading titles, you just sent a billion 12 year olds into panic, making them believe piracy had been stopped forever and they would have to actually BUY their music from now on *Slow clap*
    Spotify does not pay much, but still pays more than piracy, and if someone really likes one's musicianship, he/she will buy an album probably. Maybe not.
    I think music piracy is decreasing and will stop, eventually... Spotify is good because it's one of the major steps to achieving this
    The protest really isn't against Spotify's streaming service but more on how they pay royalties to the bands, mainly the newer ones. Personally I believe that to be a fair call by ATP and happy they've taking a stand for younger bands. Just a little thing for Spotify to clean up really. Nothing big and UG have blown it way out of proportion
    The sad fact is that they will never be able to eliminate piracy. They could shut down each and every pirate website on the net, but it still wouldn't help. Anyone with a PC or laptop can copy a CD in seconds and reproduce that copy as many times as they wish. Piracy was around long before music made it to the Internet.
    i think in due time cds will be back and itll be like the 90s again, no dominant genre just so many kinds of new music being made
    When bands make great CD's that are worth the 20$ cause the songs are ALL good.....then I'll stop