Spotify has long argued that it isn’t killing music sales, but is rather reducing piracy — and the company now has some numbers to back that claim up: This week, Spotify published a report that shows that piracy in the Netherlands has gone down just as Spotify has become more popular in the country.
The report is authored by Spotify’s director of economics Will Page, who joined the company last fall and previously worked as a well-respected economist for the British collecting society PRS for Music (hat tip to TorrentFreak).
Spotify launched in the Netherlands in 2010. Check out how music piracy has changed in the country over the last few years, and compare that to other types of piracy:
What’s more, Page was able to highlight how artists who have their music on Spotify see significantly less piracy — and as a result actually more record sales — than artists who don’t distribute their music over the service. One Direction is one example of a band embracing Spotify. Check out the chart below, visualizing how the band’s music did on Spotify, BitTorrent and traditional distribution when it released its album Take Me Home in the Netherlands in 2012:
Now compare that to Rhianna, whose album Unapologetic was released one week later, but didn’t appear on Spotify for a couple of weeks:
The report goes on to compare piracy levels in the Netherlands with Italy, where piracy is still much more pervasive. Spotify only launched in Italy this year, and Page’s take is that the company could have a similar effect on piracy there as it had in the Netherlands. However, income levels in Italy are also much lower, and going down:
It remains to be seen whether Spotify can really fight piracy everywhere, or only in places where people can actually afford to pay for music.