As Piracy Significantly Declines, Italy’s Music Industry Association Reveals the True Problem — Spotify and YouTube

According to an Italian rights organization, Spotify and YouTube – not piracy – remain the music industry’s worst problem.

In 2014, the United States Trade Representative removed Italy from the Watch List in its Special 301 report.  The Watch List tracks the countries that don’t do enough to combat piracy.

In a special announcement, the USTR proclaimed,

Italy’s removal from the Special 301 List reflects the significant steps the Government of Italy has taken to address the problem of online piracy, and the continued U.S. commitment to meaningful and sustained engagement with our critical partner, Italy.”

To combat piracy, the country granted AGCOM, the Italian Communications Regulatory Authority, the legal right to directly deal with copyright infringement.

Avoiding courts altogether, AGCOM swiftly grants content creators injunctions against piracy websites.  Rightsholders simply ask the watchdog for a block, which it quickly grants.

Now, five years later, the Italian Communications Regulatory Authority has released information revealing the music industry’s true threat.

Music piracy on the decline while freemium kills the music industry.

In a new report, AGCOM has revealed overall visits to piracy sites have substantially declined.  Between 2018 and 2019, for example, total piracy visits on mobile and desktops decreased 35%.

Site blocking has proven an effective tactic in combating copyright infringement.  In January of 2019, for example, visits to YouTube stream-rippers 2Conv and FLV2MP3 immediately sank.  Contrary to popular belief, most users didn’t switch to a VPN to access both sites.

Praising the hardline tactic, Enzo Mazza, Head of Italian music industry group FIMI, explained,

The first major blockade targeted the Pirate Bay in 2008 and the case was confirmed by the Supreme Court.  In terms of market impact, site blocking has proven to be effective in conjunction with an increase of legal offers.

He added AGCOM regulation played a major role in decreasing piracy visits.

Most of the blocked sites have a landing page, created by AGCOM and shown by the ISPs, which explains to visitors how to reach legal sites.

Yet, a much larger problem exists in the music industry.  Ironically enough, these come from two major music streaming platforms.

“The main issue here isn’t piracy.  It’s how to convert people from free YouTube and Spotify accounts to premium services.”

He explained that Italy is a country where the ‘culture of free’ remains firmly planted in users’ minds.

It’s not easy to drag people into a subscription model.

Nearly 90% of music consumers in Italy use YouTube alone to stream their favorite songs.  This leads to lower conversions – and thus lower payouts for labels, publishers, songwriters, and artists, among many other parties.

Conversion rates are still below the global average and this is a major challenge for the industry.

So, what’s the solution?  Mazza said Spotify and YouTube must do more to increase conversion rates.

We’re urging in particular Spotify to do more in terms of promotional campaigns in order to engage new premium customers.

Spotify has ‘dragged’ more than 100 million into paying plans, though its conversion rate in Italy may need some assistance.  YouTube, on the other hand, seems to be struggling to convert substantial premium customers, regardless of the territory.

The real solution?  Perhaps killing freemium music streaming altogether.

Again, easier said than done.



6 Responses

  1. Roger

    My wife recently spent time taking some of my songs off Youtube (there are probably thousands of my songs from four different bands put there by fans and NOT BY ME) and here is the response from a fan the next day:
    “My favorite bands Harlan Cage and 101 South cannot be found on Youtube, Spotify etc anymore (a decision not made by a company I believe, but by their own will). Why play in the world’s greatest AOR bands and not let people hear it!?”
    No mention from this fan about actually paying me for my hard work, writing, recording and producing these albums! The fans have no clue about how much it costs us to record a quality album. My last album I employed many musicians from the Alan Parsons Project and at the end of the sessions they expected me to PAY THEM, LOL! As the quality of music continues to decline I have retired from this pointless music business……..

    • Dean Hajas

      Hey Roger….

      The song lyric ..”The Day The Music Died” kept running through my head today.
      It’s a complicated set of practices involving many facets of many industries acting as one GIANT BIT COIN RIP OFF MACHINE. I’m not sure about your videos, but it certainly happens on mine. Any of the videos that include the CMRRA are the tip off for us to understand that Canada is being used as a back door to the industry for Record Companies / publishers and especially sub-publishers. Canada doesn’t require an audio sample at point of registry with either the PRO’s #SOCAN nor CIPO the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. This poses a series of problems in that Eric Baptiste the CEO for SOCAN is sitting on the board as Chairman for CISAC. Sub-publishers apply for licensing, alter the title, and release versions of our tracks through out the world. CISAC gathers all the fractions of every play from every website through a. i. and holds in a company called MINT Switzerland. Mint was created by SOCAN, and subsequently CISAC sends 25% of 10.1 BILLION Euro to the states to a Black Box fund specifically for the classification of “Orphaned Royalties”. The music industry in Canada has created this facet in order to cash in on the fact that most musicians don’t know there music is played all over the world with slightly altered ISWC – ISRC – IPI – Work Numbers, in addition to altered titles, sometimes completely altered, with brand new ISWC numbers generated. Of course it’s orphaned royalties, how could it not be, it was created to have Orphaned Royalties. It’s a way of skimming the artists for their Royalties, and the musicians never know about it. There are so many levels of theft and corruption, I literally could write all night in explanations. I’m going to say to you….rather then give up on the music business, would you consider first thing your due diligence and looking on and searching using your ISWC codes, and clicking on your song once it opens up to see if it identifies any AT ( Alternate Titles) you are not aware of….? Then look up your ISRC codes on Soundexchange to see if there are discrepencies.
      I hear you in the frustration department and encourage you to take a break for a minute, and rest up. There has to be a fight in order to make all of this right…and the fight is in progress. As it gains momentum, please….send your fire, and join in being heard to the U.N. and the world court. It is a proclamation that the PRO’s and CISAC have broken the WIPO treaties and are “Knowingly Willingly” causing harm to citizens rights to make fair commerce with a decided value by the artists. If you own a coffee shop, you have the right to set the price, not the Governments and regulators. If people decide to pay your asking price…they consume…Not the other way around. Cheers man….take care, I look forward to you being fired up again.

      • Roger

        Hey Dean. Ten years ago I gained the support of many people connected to the most successful band in the history of music (a band from Liverpool) to actually try and do something to help get future generations of musicians paid for their creative work. Plus also got the AFM (largest union for musicians in the world) to join our efforts and then the musicians were all “too busy’ to help! I guess the musicians are all okay with 12% of revenues and free music on the Internet. Barely a peep from them since Napster and they seem happy people liking their music on Youtube where Google continues to make more money than they do. But thank you for your comments. I am now retired and recently turned down being involved in an album with a budget of $7000 from a European record label. Cost to make the new album, $9500! There is no solution at this point and free music will mean mostly dreadful music made badly by amateurs in their bedrooms! Sad since I remember writing songs that saved some lives with some fans contacting me to tell me their stories from music that helped them through tough times in their lives. And I remember when we used a real orchestra to overdub strings and horns etc. on old albums that were well funded, it made a huge difference to the quality of music but cost $30,000 or more!

  2. Peter Parker

    Spotify is great, awesome and brilliant invention in music industry. But website like zvmarket is ruining it very badly. I mean anyone can buy spotify followers from zvmarket and its not ethically and morally right. ZvMarket should be ban

  3. Keith

    Is artist direct a possibility in the future? Every artist could stream their own music for a monthly/yearly subscription that could cost less than what those platforms charge. I don’t know if that’s even feasible given the costs of such an endeavor. Maybe the labels themselves could host these platforms?? As the cost of technology gets cheaper over time, I could see that becoming a possibility. No?