Brit music pirate numbers decline

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The number of Britons that are illegally downloading music is decreasing, according to new custom research from YouGov.

YouGov’s Music Report reveals that one in ten Britons (10 per cent) download music illegally, down from 18 per cent five years ago.

This number looks set to decrease. While 63 per cent of those that illegally download music expect to still be doing so in five years, 22 per cent do not. Added to this, 36 per cent say that using unverified sources to access music is becoming more difficult.

This decrease can be in part attributed to the rise of streaming services. Over six in ten (63 per cent) that have stopped illegally downloading music now use streaming services.

Survey participants were asked to articulate why they made this change. One said that “It is now easier to stream music than to pirate it. And the cost is not prohibitive”, while another believed that “Spotify has everything from new releases to old songs, it filled the vacuum, there was no longer a need for using unverified source.”

YouGov notes that there is a group that continues to download illegally. Of this cohort, over half (51 per cent) say that they find it frustrating when music is released exclusively through one platform, while 44 per cent say that they only download illegally when they couldn’t access the music anywhere else.

While illegal downloads still present a significant challenge to the music industry, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. YouGov’s research reveals a change in behaviour, with those that previously attained music by unlawful means now being enticed by the low costs and ease of use associated with streaming.

“Simply put, many don’t feel they need to go to the same lengths to acquire the music they want, now they have it at their fingertips. Whether or not streaming is what finally banishes illegal downloads remains to be seen, but there are encouraging signs,” concludes Russell Feldman, Director of Digital, Media and Technology, YouGov.

Christopher Elkins, chief strategy officer at content protection and data-analytics solutions specialist MUSO, disagrees with the YouGov findings, suggesting that MUSO data shows that demand for streaming music piracy in the UK is increasing considerably, rising over 21 per cent through 2017. “The YouGov survey indicates more people opting to use streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, but, conversely, our data highlights that there is still a large audience in the UK choosing to use piracy streaming platforms. Piracy remains a significant challenge, but also presents a huge opportunity for the UK music industry to engage these fans in the long term,” he added.


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