In recent years, Sweden has become somewhat of a battle ground against unauthorized file-sharing. Home to a BitTorrent site so famous that in most cases it’s not even necessary to name it anymore, this Scandinavian country has made sharing files part of its culture. Moves to stop this phenomenon have been met with widespread opposition.
So maybe it comes as a surprise to learn that, according to new figures released by the IFPI in Sweden, music sales were up 10.2% in 2009. According to the group, this represents the first increase in revenue since 2000.
While physical CD albums sales managed a 1.9% increase over the previous year and still accounted for 80% of total industry revenues, the digital realm provided all the excitement.
The digital market place provided 16.3% of total sales in 2009, an increase of 98.6% over the previous year. 46.1% of digital sales came from streaming services such as Spotify, up from 17% in 2008, with the remaining 53.9% coming from other Internet sources.
According to IFPI, the main factor influencing these good results is a better offering to the public.
“I think the main reason for the increase in revenue is the availability of better legal services,” said chairman Ludvig Werner.
Indeed, increased availability has to help. The digital market has been resisted by the industry for such a long time, arguably enabling illicit file-sharing services to gain traction. Now that some effort is being made to compete with these unauthorized sources, the benefits can be seen.
Arguably it was the very existence of unauthorized music sources that prompted the industry to sit up and take notice of the digital market place in the first instance, but IFPI warns that these newer official outlets can only operate successfully in a market free from competing illegal file-sharing.
While Werner says that he feels that the introduction of the anti-filesharing IPRED legislation back in April 2009 had helped sales, Måns Svensson, PhD in Sociology of Law Lund University, advises to proceed with caution.
“I do not think we should exaggerate the effect. In our studies, we see that there are many who still share files. But it mostly affects the sales of physical copies where there has been a very small increase,” he told Metro.
“The increase in digital sales over the net, I think we can see continuing in parallel with file-sharing. I believe the growth would have been there even without IPRED,” he added.
Daniel Johansson, a researcher at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, believes that the availability of streaming services may have affected the habits of younger people – the biggest music sharing group.
“There have been a lot of surveys over the last year and an important factor is a change in music behavior in the younger groups who are the biggest file-sharers,” he said.