March 2013

Are music sales affected by piracy?

Fierce AngelA recent report out this week by the EU JRC says “digital music piracy does not displace legal music purchases in digital format”. The IFPI have rebuffed this report.

Commenting, IFPI boss Frances Moore told CMU: “The study contains significant flaws and is therefore misleading in its conclusions about the impact of piracy. In particular, it uses a methodology that does not accurately measure digital music purchases and, very importantly, it omits from its assessment the impact of piracy on subscription and streaming services. Most research confirms a very different picture, which is that piracy overall has a negative impact on the legitimate music business”.

You can read the full article here.

We see data on a daily basis which also contradicts the report. It is extremely hard on a single release to know what affect anti-piracy has had on sales because every product is different however when you see the affect every time and get the feedback below it shows a clear pattern.

Mark Doyle – Fierce Angles

“Using AudioLock’s antipiracy service has resulted in a 25% increase in sales on our last compilation”

Skint : Tim Jeffery : Director

“We have been very impressed with the AudioLock system – on a recent Fatboy Slim release over 2000 illegal download links were removed in under a week and it definitely made an impact on our sales, helping it to a Beatport top ten position.”

Cloud 9 Dance NL : Sebastien Lintz : Creative Assistant

“Our track got leaked on the internet, but by employing AudioLock we then managed to remove every infringing download link and still reach the #1 position on the Beatport Chart within a week! Without AudioLock it wouldn’t have been possible for us to reach the #1 position so fast.”

This Is Music Ltd : Simon Gold : Artist & Label Manager

“AudioLock has really enabled us to keep things tight with vinyl only releases which we have seen sabotaged in years gone past by the digital files leaking online. Consequently we have seen a rise in 12″ sales which no doubt, is due in part to us using Audio Lock”

Metropolis Group : Luke Armitage : Artists Manager

“AudioLock removed some 400 copyright infringing links to the Justice Collective ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother” release in the key week leading up to the single securing the UK Christmas No.1 spot.”

Another measurement that can be made is to see how many of the chart topping releases are being effectively protected from piracy.

Currently AudioLock are protecting 40% of the beatport top 20


Anti Piracy Tip – Be sure to title previews carefully on SoundCloud and YouTube

SoundCloud and YouTubeIt is well known that pirates use content feeds form SoundCloud and YouTube in-conjunction with others to build pirate sites which then fill up Google results often pushing legitimate download stores off the page 1 results.

These sites simply just list any content they can for the incoming search term. This means that someone in Google searching for a specific artist and release will automatically generate a page on the pirate site which will push it up the rankings for future Google users. These sites list out the content for the artist and release against a pile of adverts. Here are a few examples (all taken from the same page 1 Google results)


Check out the first site here is one of the supposed download links.

If you click it you do get an mp3 file. However if you do a bit of magic to decode it this is the actual link it represents.

So how do you get around this? Well if you use YouTube or SoundCloud then be sure to make it clear to anyone hitting one of these sites that it is not the real high quality full length track by using terms such as ‘clip’ or ‘preview’ in the title.

eg. Alesso & Dirty South – City Of Dreams *Preview*

Want more proof that pirates scrape the data to show on their sites? The above track can be searched for and you can see the result here, clearly showing the ‘preview’ text ensuring anyone who sees it knows that it is not actually a download of the real release.

Anti Piracy Tip – Keep previews lower quality and add buy links

Anti piracySoundCloud and YouTube are both indeed significant and often imperative tools for record companies and artists in the digital age for promotion but there are various methods for pirates to rip content from both of these sites with ease to populate their own download sites or simply provide consumers with free web based tools to download as mp3s.
To counter act the threat of piracy while maintaining the use of both of these sites first and foremost it’s important to ONLY upload lower quality audio files, preferably 192 kbs (never 320kbs or Wav files).

Most recently My Bloody Valentine have practiced this method with the ‘mbv’ album on their official YouTube channel. For example on each upload they have specifically outlined that the format is of a much reduced quality. “This track has been uploaded to YouTube at reduced quality of 192kbps with fade ins/outs. Click to seeMy Bloody Valentive - mbv

This means In the event of audio being ripped from either of these sites the format quality will be at a much reduced rate therefore reducing the risk of infringing links due to the audio being of such poor quality. This would also mean casual consumers and especially audiophiles would potentially desire a higher quality format therefore potentially driving sales of your release.

Another method to help increase sales most defiantly is to utilize the features of SoundCloud by making the player show a purchase link whether that is iTunes, Beatport, Juno or any of the other download stores. You would be surprised how many official preview players we see everyday without any purchase information even after release. Adding links on YouTube is also of significant importance because it not only helps consumers find where to buy the release but it helps Google index the download stores page and raises it in the Google results.