MusicWatch piracy outlook: What can the video industry learn?

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MusicWatch, a market research service for the music and entertainment industry, released a summary of new research about online music piracy.  The music industry has breathed a sigh of relief in recent years as music sharing “services” operated by pirates and CD-ripping have largely given way to legitimate music services that offer online streaming.

According to MusicWatch, 95 million people had used one of the major streaming servicesat least one hour per week over a three month period. Of these, “68 million were self-paying, 25 million had access through a family plan, 13 million were on a free trial and 11 million were ‘mooching’ or sharing a log-in that was not from an authorized family plan.”

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Read all the findings at MusicWatch

Why it’s meaningful

MusicWatch makes the interesting point that while video lovers need many accounts to get the programming they want, music lovers need fewer choices.  Most music streamers subscribe to one service and are generally satisfied.

As with video, credential sharing is a significant issue: every legitimate user ID is shared with 2.3 other users, according to the MusicWatch research.  MusicWatch published no statistics on the percentage of music piracy resulting from use of stolen or purchased access credentials.

Outright content theft seems to be a much bigger problem in the video world than with music.  My own research with Parks Associates found that “only” 28% of pirated video was due to account access abuse (aka password sharing) or by professional pirates using purchased databases.

Online music piracy dates back 20 years, to the days of Napster.  Does this mean that the arc of video piracy’s market adoption lifecycle will also be 20 years?  If so, we have many years left to go before the problem of video piracy subsides.

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