As music sales rise, Sweden swims against the stream
Published : 2013-03-11 19:44
Updated : 2013-03-11 19:44
STOCKHOLM (AFP) ― Despite being home to a vibrant community of file-sharing activists, Sweden is at the forefront of a global recovery in music sales driven by streaming music services such as Spotify, industry observers say.
Legal downloading sites like Apple’s iTunes Store were once thought to be a panacea for the global music industry, providing an alternative to illegal download sites like Sweden’s Pirate Bay.
But if the high-tech Scandinavian nation is anything to go by, music downloads could soon be as obsolete as CDs or vinyl records. iTunes’ success has been modest here, with the vast majority of consumers preferring to stream songs rather than owning them on a hard drive.
Last year was the best year for music sales in Sweden since 2005, with 63 percent of revenue coming from digital sources, according to data from the Swedish Recording Industry Association (GLF). Out of that, 90 percent came from streaming services.
“Norway and Sweden are similar in that a large part of music revenue comes from streaming, and in that both countries have seen strong growth,” said Ludwig Werner, managing director of the Swedish chapter of IFPI (the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry).
Other countries, including Europe’s largest economy Germany, still derive most of their music sales from CDs, he noted.
With income still lagging the heydays of the early noughties, when file-sharing began eating into results, Werner said it was too early to tell if the music industry was out of the woods.
Last year’s sales of 943 million kronor (113 million euros or $148 million) in Sweden was up 13.8 percent from the previous year, but well below the 1.55 billion registered in 2002.
The Swedish turnaround has been driven by two events: In 2009, the “Ipred” law came into effect, giving copyright holders the right to require service providers to reveal details of users who share files, paving the way for legal action.
Also contributing to a rise in legal music sales was Spotify, the digital media juggernaut launched by Swedes Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon in 2008.
The streaming music service still counts Sweden as one of its most successful markets.
“We do see a similar trend (for sales) across the Nordics, but primarily for Sweden and Norway where the penetration for streaming services is very high,” spokeswoman Marine Elgrichi said.
According to the company, the 120 euros a paying Spotify user spends on music per year is twice that of a user who downloads songs.