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Piracy and public performance rights need to be on the agenda for Asian music markets to capitalise on potential, says IFPI

By | Published on Thursday 23 May 2013

Frances Moore

Frances Moore, the boss of the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry, bigged up the potential of the Asian market – or, rather, markets – in a speech at the Music Matters conference in Singapore yesterday, predictably countering her optimism of the potential for growth in these regions with a call for better copyright and anti-piracy laws.

Noting that the Asian market is diverse, and not really one market at all, Moore observed: “In terms of revenue growth, one of the most positive stories of 2012 was India. A market where the smartphone revolution helped revenue growth of 20% last year. And where new download and subscription services promise more in 2013. There are still very few countries in the world where digital income has crossed the 50% threshold and accounts for more than half of all revenues. India is one of them, along with the US and some Scandinavian countries”.

She went on: “South Korea’s music industry is in many ways a showcase to the world. The country where subscription services achieved a mass audience, years before the model went mainstream elsewhere. Home to the internationally celebrated K-pop. And home also to some of the most enlightened government policies on copyright anywhere in the world. They have encouraged investment, driven market growth and helped domestic artists go global”.

On to the biggest single market, Moore continued: “In China, we are seeing a new approach to licensing, as record companies partner with internet companies such as Baidu, with vast customer bases. These deals aim to lay the foundations for a licensed digital business. More such partnerships can be expected. Only last month, a senior official of China’s national copyright administration said paid-for music downloads are ‘inevitable’ in China. Not long ago, the ‘inevitable’ would have been the ‘unthinkable’. Of course copyright enforcement, both by the internet companies and by the government, will have a vital role to play if this prospect is to be realised”.

And on the most lucrative Asian market of all, she concluded: “And then there is Japan – the giant market of the region. Japan is in a challenging phase of transition. CD sales grew in 2012. But the large traditional mobile music sector is in sharp decline. Japan is now moving into a new phase of download and subscription services. We need these to grow and expand over the coming months”.

But achieving growth potential, she went on, would require more Asian governments to start tackling piracy head on, perhaps adopting strategies employed (with debatable success – not that she said that) in Europe and, closer to home for Asian politicians, South Korea. Though piracy isn’t the only issue, she added, calling on those copyright systems yet to full embrace the notion of public performance rights to do so.

Concluding: “The music industry is proving it is a ‘winner’, not a loser, in the digital world. And it is precisely at this moment of transition that we most need to address the issues I have outlined. We are on the road to recovery. The next step is to get to sustained growth”.

Read the full speech here