Hot Seat: Frances Moore – CEO IFPI
The recorded music industry’s return to growth in 2012 has been well reported. Though small – just 0.3% — the record business last year halted a thirteen-year decline. The last time the global biz generated positive numbers, The Matrix was blowing up the box office, Napster was the geeks’ new plaything, and Marshall Mathers was a relative unknown.
Frances Moore is less than three years into her position as CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry – the IFPI for short. In five years, her predecessor John Kennedy never enjoyed the moment of announcing an uptick for the record business. Moore already has, with the February 26 unveiling of the IFPI’s Digital Music Report.
A barrister by training, Moore previously headed IFPI’s European regional office in Brussels. Now based in the IFPI’s London headquarters, Moore is tasked with overseeing and co-ordinating the global trade body’s strategies, which centre on anti-piracy enforcement and represent the industry’s interests at all levels of government and commerce. The IFPI’s members include some 1,400 record companies in 66 countries and affiliated industry associations in 55 markets. TMN caught up with Moore ahead of the publication this month of the IFPI’s annual Recording Industry in Numbers handbook.
What’s your take on the health of the biz?
We’re very excited about the inflexion point. There’s a real feeling of excitement in the industry. It’s still fragile. There’s still an awful lot of work to be done. The industry has definitely done it in terms of legal services. If you look at Australia – where you have 30 legal services or more — they’ve achieved that, and made a big drive in education. We just need to keep making sure that we’ve got the enforcement right to keep creating the breathing space for the new services to develop. The (music) companies really have a drive that I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s almost as if they can see the end having gone through a bad decade. When you see the industry spreading globally and a serious attempt to break Africa with the initiative Kleek, you can see the optimism for the industry.
Australia had a solid year in 2012. Are there any take-aways from the Australian situation?
Every market is particular to itself, so to speak. Obviously what we’re learning is that some countries prefer downloads, some countries want subscription services. What you need is a good environment and you need for a mixture of legal services. Enforcement is very important. And that’s one thing we’re working on for Australia. We don’t have legislation there for a “graduated response.” Or for Website blocking. You need good enforcement, you need education, and a good mix of legal services so the consumer has choice. Then you can help migrate the consumer towards the legal services.
Is there any likelihood of a breakthrough in talks between the ISPs and rights holders here? Or does Australia need to head down that route toward legislation?
There comes a point where the government has got to intervene. How long have those talks been going on in one form or another? When government intervenes, you get action. In Korea or France or New Zealand, wherever the government has intervened, we’ve seen results. If you look at the U.S., you could say the new U.S. Copyright Alert System was voluntary. But one shouldn’t forget that behind it was (U.S. Vice President) Joe Biden. And Victoria Espinel, the U.S. “Copyright Tsar”. They were always pushing the parties to come to some type of agreement. You need some impetus from government. In Australia your Attorney-General was sitting at the table. People need to know if they don’t (reach an agreement) there will be some type of intervention. The whole chain should be cooperating, not just the ISPs but advertisers, payment systems, search engines. They all have a role to play in making sure this is a good, dynamic legal market. One would consider it part of social responsibility.
We don’t hear the word “piracy” used as much now as, say, five years ago. Will the music industry ever get a handle on piracy, or will it always be a battle?
Piracy will always be an ongoing battle. We’ve always tried to create enough space for the legal services to develop and that once legal services develop, try as much as possible to migrate the consumer toward them. Something like a third of our potential consumers are going to illegal sites. When a third of your potential consumers are getting your product for free, it’s still a very big concern. We’ve put a lot of work in, we’ve cried over the years for the piracy situation. We’ve got to the point now where we see a little of the light at the end of the tunnel and we’re going for it. It’s not that piracy has gone away, it’s just that we’re driving as much as possible toward the legal market.
The likes of Pirate Bay and MegaUpload are some of the services which have taken a lot of your energies over the years. Do you have a “rogues gallery” of dodgy sites that you keep an eye on?
You’re right, it’s taken an inordinate amount of time but we can’t afford to not do it. We have an anti-piracy operation that goes non-stop, 24 hours a day. When London closes down, the U.S. opens up. We have people in New Zealand. We’re constantly watching and trying to keep piracy under control. Yes, we do have a list of targets we’re watching at all times. I won’t name them all. There are sites like Russia’s VKontakte (VK) which has completely prevented the market from developing. With Pirate Bay, we’ve found that blocking works. Where the courts have intervened and blocked Pirate Bay in something like five European countries, traffic has dropped by 69%. In those countries where Pirate Bay isn’t blocked, its traffic has risen by 45%.
What else is on the IFPI’s agenda this year?
Enforcement. And the expansion of rights – especially in Asia, where there are a number of countries where certain rights don’t exist. In Japan, for example, we don’t have a public performance right. Or China, where at present there are rights on the table as part of the copyright law revision for public performance and broadcasting. Performance rights these days are something like 6% of the industry’s revenue — those are important gaps. In Australia, there have been some wins in the public performance side, but we still have a broadcasting cap that we have to deal with. That’s obviously an issue we’re looking at. We have a big problem in Europe at present — but I think it’s a global problem — of copyright reform. Or a better way to put it would be “copyright erosion.” We’re having a particularly Google-led approach that copyright is a block that stifles innovation on the Internet, and therefore if you want a fast and efficient Internet you need to remove copyright. We argue the opposite. If you look at our Digital Music Report, we’re the driver of the Internet. Nine in 10 of the most-liked people on the Facebook are artists, seven of the 10 most-followed Twitter users are artists, nine in ten of the most-watched videos on YouTube are artists. We’re the engine of the Internet, we’re driving it. It was a big debate which started after the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)/PIPA (Protect IP Act)/ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) debate. It’ll be ongoing for the next few years in Europe and around the world.