Music piracy could be on its last legs, with music store Bandcamp says it is actively cutting down music piracy, and Spotify claiming it will overtake iTunes in two years.
Bandcamp says it can compete with filesharing sites because it offers an easy way for fans to support artists, and because its online store offers a better user experience than traditional torrent sites.
In a new blog post, the company outlined several examples of illegal music searches which converted into sales:
"Just this morning someone paid $10 for an album after Googling 'lelia broussard torrent.' A bit later, a fan plunked down $17 after searching for 'murder by death, skeletons in the closet, mediafire.' Then a $15 sale came in from the search 'maimouna youssef the blooming hulkshare.' Then a fan made a $12 purchase after clicking a link on music torrent tracker What.CD. Then someone spent $10 after following a link on The Pirate Bay."
Bandcamp launched its digital music store in 2008, and quickly gained popularity among independent musicians thanks to its free service, powerful file format options, and a Radiohead-style 'pay what you want' option. Bandcamp claims that 40% of fans pay more than the asking price when this option is available. After building a dedicated audience, it started to charge a 20% fee on all sales under $100.
While piracy has ravaged the modern music industry, several companies have used digital technology to claw back revenue, with efforts led by Apple who pioneered an a'la carte model with fixed prices for singles and albums.
However, recent additions to the digital music business, like Spotify and Deezer, have opted for streaming subscriptions. Last night, Napster founder Sean Parker (who has since invested in Spotify) said that Spotify "will overtake iTunes in terms of the amount of revenue we contribute to the music labels in under two years" if it continues growth at the same rate.
Will the rise of revenue from digital music help quell fears from musicians that the business is beyond the point of no return? Have consumer attitudes changed too much, leaving music devalued?
Tool singer Maynard James Keenan seems to think so, according to a recent interview:
"I think part of the problem with most of that is just the foundation of respect or entitlement. I think 'entitlement' is probably the better word. I think, just in general, our society has gotten to the point where just you click a button, you get what you want when you want it. So until we get to a point where we realize you don't necessarily always get what you want when you want it, we're gonna have a problem."