From Pirates to Fans
Piracy is a serious topic in the music industry of which we've all been long aware. Approaches have varied from heavy handed lawsuits that have eroded good will to direct discussions with pirates that require good will to succeed. Here is one indie software developer's experience with personal appeals to those who have pirated his software that is worth considering for musicians.
Tyler Hall is an independent Mac software developer who maintains that the most successful responses to piracy will be by making it easy to purchase software (or music) and finding "simple, non-intrusive ways of encouraging pirates to become paying customers." He recently shared the results from his attempts to encourage pirates to become paying customers.
Tyler had an apparently easy to fake serial number system for verifying app ownership. Before he eventually made that process more secure, he went through a series of steps from banning serial numbers to appealing to the pirates directly to appeals combined with an immediate discount purchase offer.
His highest rate of success was in combining a personal appeal with a discount purchase option. Though he ultimately could only claim a conversion rate of 11%, that was a significant shift for his operation and success was due, in part, to ease of purchase.
Outright appeals to morality are generally difficult for musicians to make at this point in time. But dialogue with fans who pirate without considering the effects in a context in which music is easy to purchase or access via ad-supported means does offer the potential to reach the fans among the filesharers and to positively affect one's bottom line.
Such a turnaround is only possible in an atmosphere that does not demonize pirates but focuses on making music more accessible, rather than restricting its availability via new platforms, and in finding ways to reach the fans among the pirates.