Angry Birds’ studio head says piracy attracts new fans

Learning from music industry on what not to do.

Speaking at the Midem conference in Cannes yesterday, the CEO of Rovio, more popularly known as the studio behind Angry Birds, talked about how they handle piracy. With over 500 million downloads and physical merchandise spreading all across the world, piracy is something that would naturally happen to this multi-billion dollar brand.
Unlike the music industry, though, who try to tackle users and pirates alike with legal action left and right, Rovio has a different outlook on the problem. “We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy,” said Mikael Hed, CEO at Rovio, in aninterview.
Apart from pirated Angry Birds apps, Hed also mentioned that there are “tons and tons” of merchandise in Asian countries that’s not licensed by Rovio; clearly that is all revenue being lost. However, Hed says that “It would be futile to try to eradicate all the piracy through legal means – pursuing the pirates… We are doing that too, but mostly in cases when we feel the products that pirates are doing are harmful, either to the brand image or to the customers.”
Rovio sees their customers as fans, rather than users, as is the case with the music industry. ”If we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow,” he said. And this is where piracy isn’t taken as a complete evil towards the business, but instead it is seen as a means to increase the fans of the Angry Birds brand. “Piracy may not be a bad thing; it can get us more business at the end of the day.”