This study analyses which factors may hinder the supply of and demand for digitally distributed music, audiovisual content, games and books in the Netherlands. The analysis includes economic, legal and technical factors. It takes two to tango: problems may arise on the supply side and on the demand side of the market. Additionally, the transaction itself may be problematic, due to the costs and safety risks associated with e-commerce.

The four sectors differ substantially in terms of digital distribution. The music industry has managed to offer a comprehensive supply of digital music, consisting of download and streaming services. The business case for streaming still has to prove successful in the long run. Apart from the major brands that offer a vast collection of music to mainstreamconsumers, there are also niche players that cater to specific genres. Suppliers of music have to negotiate with numerous parties to clear copyrights. This is a serious obstacle, but some (large) firms have succeeded. In the Netherlands 40% of music transactions is digital, but the digital share in revenues lags behind with 15%.

The market for e-books is almost a mirror image of the market for digital music: the supply of e-books in the Netherlands is low, while consumers seem to be willing to read electronically and experience a lack of titles. New releases are increasingly also published as e-book, albeit with some delay. The backlist – older titles that are not being marketed anymore – faces serious obstacles in digitization. The availability of titles from the backlist is poor. An important reason is the difficulty to find the relevant party to clear copyrights for older titles. The limited size of the Dutch speaking population is also a relevant obstacle. The digitization of a Dutch novel from the backlist will be less profitable than the digitization of a French or English novel.