Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/23/sweden_p2p/

Want a better Pirate Bay?

86pc of Swedes would pay for P2P: survey

By Andrew Orlowski

Posted in Media, 23rd April 2009 12:52 GMT

A survey of Swedish internet users suggests that the music business continues to outlaw its biggest potential source of digital revenue.

86.2 per cent of users polled by Swedish performing rights society STIM would pay for some kind of legal P2P service, with only 5 per cent not interested whatever the price. A similar figure emerged from a survey of British users by UK Music (then BMR) last year.

51 per cent of users surveyed by the would pay between 50Kr and 150Kr (£4 and £12) a month. 18.8 per cent would pay more, between £12 and £24 a month. Only 7.4 per cent would not be interested in paying at all.

Streaming services such as Spotify or Last.fm are popular, but are not a replacement for an offline music collection. 80 per cent want to have their music accessible offline, something that a streaming service such as Spotify or Last.fm cannot (currently) offer. Only 4 per cent would be happy to have their music "in the cloud".

"It is now high time that [ISPs] start working seriously to offer their customers what they are calling for. Whoever first produces a commercial subscription product and shows the way, will at the same time be accepting their responsibility for diversity and breadth in the music industry of the future," concludes STIM chief executive Kenth Muldin.

Virgin was expected to launch a legal P2P music service here this spring, but it was put on ice weeks before launch. Some label sources say it may be revived - but not in the immediate future.

75 per cent agree with the principle that creators should be paid (somehow) for recorded music distributed over the interwebs, while 17 per cent disagree. Hardcore 'tards again find themselves in a minority.

The poll of over 1,000 Swedish net users was self-selecting, and STIM warns against regarding it as representative. The British survey last year produced interest of 80 per cent of downloaders and 63 per cent of non-downloaders. STIM's poll is is skewed 2:1 male, but over half say they listen to music on a PC regularly, and a quarter have over 5,000 songs on their iPod.

When we project the figures onto the UK, we can see how much potential revenue the music business may be missing out on. Bear in mind the value of recorded music in the UK, both physical and digital sales combined, is about £1bn.

How much would you pay for a legal P2P service (unprompted)? The X axis is Swedish Krona

Around 14m UK households today have broadband. If 63 per cent of those households paid a tenner a month, over £1bn would be raised. The other 37 per cent may continue to buy CDs, or a la carte from Amazon and iTunes. If more paid less, say 80 per cent paid a fiver, that would return £672m. If only 12 per cent of households paid £15, that would nevertheless raise the tidy sum of £302m. Now you can see how much the war on P2P is really hurting the music business.

The problem is once you're in, you're in - it's near impossible to introduce a "tiered" P2P service without introducing daft usage caps, or monitoring so expensive and intrusive that it wouldn't be worth the effort. No one's seriously suggesting that anyway. But there are some really interesting nuggets buried in the survey - suggesting that we consumers don't just want legal P2P, but a much better P2P experience.

A better mousetrap than PirateBay?

Almost half those surveyed complain that unlicensed P2P sites serve up corrupt or incomplete files (47 and 40 per cent respectively). 41.3 per cent say what's in them isn't what they expected. That looks like a lousy customer experience. What's keeping Pirate Bay going is that it's free, or one in the eye for the music business, not that it's a cracking music service.

In addition, only 48.3 per cent agree with the proposition that "you can find everything you want" today - surely a basic requirement of a decent P2P service. On top of this, less than 60 per cent think torrent sites and LimeWire are easy to use.

Q:"What are the advantages of P2P?" Looks like there's plenty of room for improvement

"The vision is that everyone should be able to listen to all the music that is available on the Internet in the same way as we watch TV programmes - paid-for and legally - but without having to wonder about how much the programme we are watching is costing to watch," says Muldin.

There are three losers from a thriving legal P2P market: music business lawyers, naturally, music tax advocates - who would rather we all pay a small compulsory fee, whether we download music or not, and ... you know who. ®