Music piracy slips down charts thanks to streaming platforms, says IMRO CEO

18 Feb 2015

Music piracy is on the decline in Ireland thanks to growing use of streaming sites such as Spotify and Deezer, the chief executive of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) told

IMRO CEO Victor Finn said that while streaming is helping to combat piracy and reducing reliance on bit torrents, he still felt there was more the internet service providers (ISPs) could be doing to fight piracy.

Major record labels Warner, Sony and Universal are currently awaiting a Commercial Court judgement whereby they are seeking an injunction against UPC over subscribers who have illegally downloaded music and movies.

Today IMRO published the results of a survey that found that the Irish music industry contributes over €470m to the local economy and supports more than 11,510 jobs, including 9,030 direct and 2,480 indirect.

It found that while digital sales have grown significantly, recorded music sales fallen by almost €40m from €72m to €33m per annum.

Music taskforce and IP tsar

Pictured at the launch of the report were: Irish singer-songwriter Brian Kennedy; Victor Finn, CEO IMRO; Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys TD; and Irish singer-songwriter Luan Parle

Finn is calling for the establishment of a Music Taskforce to invigorate the sector.

He said that this taskforce should include various groups including government and industry and should aim to avoid duplication.

“We need the industry coming together with the departments and for Government to drive through our recommendations and ensure they become government policy over the next 18 months. There is a very real sense that we are not achieving our potential but if we all become more organized we could achieve a lot.”

He also called for the establishment of Music Ireland to act as a focal point for the music industry just like the Irish Film Board does in the film industry.

IMRO also called for the appointment of an IP Tsar to tackle IP and copyright enforcement and legislation.

“ISPs could do more to cooperate with us together – we are all totally interdependent on each other,” Finn said.

“Internet intermediaries need content. If things continue the way they are then the remuneration to the creative industries will drop off with the obvious result that there will be less creativity produced.

“The internet companies all need quality creative content to drive advertising and subscribers.

“We are dependent on each other and we need to see closer and more cooperation.”

In terms of streaming Finn said it was still early days for the technology but that he expected revenue to increase as people move from freemium to premium.

“We earn more for the creative community when people access premium services, but we are seeing interest among people to pay for premium services from Deezer, Spotify and iTunes when it arrives.”

The hipsters have come to save vinyl

Finn said that there are interesting patterns of growth, including a spurt in music sales because of hipsters buying vinyl.

Overall Finn said that the decline in music sales has stopped and there has been a slight pickup in revenues.

“There is a slight bounce in physical sales because more outlets are selling music in Ireland.

“But it’s still a declining market. Online is taking over. But if we want a vibrant, creative sector we need to ensure that people are properly remunerated.

“It’s about striking a balance between the tech sector on one hand and the creative sector on another. We can and we should be working together.”

Music lover image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years