Angry Birds Boss: ‘Piracy May Not Be A Bad Thing’

Rovio Mobile’s chief Mikael Hed suggested that piracy can attract new fans.

Angry Birds chief executive speaks about the profit of the piracy. Photo: tomazstolfa/Flickr

Rovio Mobile’s chief executive Mikael Hed told the Midem conference in Cannes this morning that one of the most common mistakes of music industry is to deal with piracy of its Angry Birds games and merchandise.

“We have some issues with piracy, not only in apps, but also especially in the consumer products. There is tons and tons of merchandise out there, especially in Asia, which is not officially licensed products,” said Mr Hed.

“We could learn a lot from the music industry, and the rather terrible ways the music industry has tried to combat piracy,” he added.

Hed explained that piracy causes some harm in cases when destroys the Angry Birds brand, or ripping off its fans. Otherwise, it can be a means of attracting more fans, even if it is not making money from the products, says the Guardian.

“Piracy may not be a bad thing: it can get us more business at the end of the day.”

As Mr Hed mentioned, Rovio has taken some more positive lessons from the music industry, including how it sees its customers.

“We took something from the music industry, which was to stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans. We do that today: we talk about how many fans we have,” said the chief executive. “If we lose that fanbase, our business is done, but if we can grow that fanbase, our business will grow.”

It can mean that Angry Birds and music artists can develop some partnership in the future. Hed explained that Rovio sees Angry Birds as a bona-fide “channel” now, as it can compete with the most popular TV shows when terms of people’s time spent are meant.

“Already our apps are becoming channels, and we can use that channel to cross-promote – to sell further content,” Hed said. “The content itself has transformed into the channel, and the traditional distribution channels are no longer the kingmakers.”

Rovio hasn’t worked with music companies or artists yet, although that is happening elsewhere in the games industry.  For example, such social games company Zynga has run promotions with Lady Gaga and Michael Buble in its Facebook games.

“We have some discussions with labels about what we could do together to give access,” Hed said.

“It is possible to promote music content through our apps as well… We are positively looking for new partnerships, and we have a rather big team working on partnerships, so it’s just a case of getting in touch with us and we’ll take it from there”

Two weeks ago several well-known sites such as Wikipedia and some others, closed down their service for 24 hours to demonstrate their negative reaction to two anti-piracy acts which were being proposed in the US, claiming it would stifle the open web. The new acts are to give new powers for rights holders to shut down sites with pirated content and pursue the offenders in court.

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