Quite recently, a loose collective of online pirates issued a manifesto that outlines what copyright holders need to do in order to stop piracy.

Pirated Music

Some reasonable conditions appeared on the manifesto, including convenience (they would like purchased content to be immediately available, free of advertising), transparent use terms and global release dates.

Reasonable or not, should copyrights holders negotiate with pirates? Piracy costs quite the pretty penny, both in legal fees and misappropriated property. However, digital pirates potentially wear two hats, that of customer and competitor, this means that they should be carefully observed.

Whatever your stance on piracy, be you pro-piracy, a secret supporter, or a proud online peg leg wearer, anyone interested in online sales can learn from piracy.

  1. Gratis is good. If one thing is apparent from piracy, it’s that freebies have potential. Circulating free tracks is a great way to be heard and to gain exposure online. We suggest exchanging freebies for email addresses, in order to connect better with fans.
  2. Don’t overprice. While digital music is well priced, rights-holders must be careful not to fall into the old habit of raising prices just because they have the power. The internet now makes it possible for you to monetize on content held in multiple platforms, from YouTube to the traditional iTunes format.
  3. Create a community. Pirates went from strength to strength by creating communities, where they could share information and tips. Do the same thing with your fans; connect, interact and engage as much as possible. Having an established community will not only help spread word about, it is also a great way to keep up-to-date with any infringements or opportunities.
  4. Localise digital services. Digital services should be streamlined to by country and can as a result, be used to promote domestic acts. This could help in markets such as Spain, which was recently singled out in the IFPI Digital Music Report 2011 as having been decimated by piracy.
  5. Discourage piracy with the on air/on sale approach. Trailing the sales release of a track six weeks behind the radio release, otherwise known as windowing, arguably increases the propensity to pirate tracks. Our advice is to jump on board with Sony and Universal’s on air/ on sale approach, enabling fans to pick up tracks as soon as they love them.

Similar to the way in which the social security system was created by pirates and brought to the mainstream, we must observe digital pirate trends and demands and apply them to our own business patterns in order to improve market share.

We hope these first five pirate-inspired observations will improve your business endeavours.

Pirated Music

(To Be Continued)

This post is by Believe Digital Social Media Manager Shanni Elcock @shandogspeaks