'Spotify has everything': Piracy drops as streaming wins over illegal downloaders

'Spotify has everything': Piracy drops as streaming wins over illegal downloaders

The BPI and AIM still raises the ongoing concerns of members and occasionally a counterfeit CD case hits the headlines, but music piracy has largely slipped off the agenda as the industry enjoys its return to growth.

Now a YouGov survey has confirmed that the number of people illegally downloading music in the UK is decreasing. YouGov’s Music Report revealed that 10% of those surveyed download music illegally, down from 18% five years ago.

In further encouraging news for the industry, that trend looks set to continue. While 63% of those that illegally download music expect to still be doing so in five years, 22% do not.

The biz will also be heartened to hear that measures to tackle piracy online are working. Among those surveyed, 36% say that using unverified sources to access music is becoming more difficult.

The increasing take-up of streaming services - both ad-funded and premium - has seen off a good deal of piracy. YouGov found that 63% of people who have stopped illegally downloading music now use streaming services.

One survey participant commented: “It is now easier to stream music than to pirate it. And the cost is not prohibitive”.

It is easier to stream music than to pirate it

YouGov survey

Another respondent said: “Spotify has everything from new releases to old songs, it filled the vacuum, there was no longer a need for using unverified sources.”

There has been increasing competition with the launch of a major new service from YouTube, while Amazon has targeted new users with special offers in an effort to chase leaders Spotify and Apple Music (who also offer their own inducements to potential subscribers).

However, Spotify has admitted that a proportion of users are employing ad-blocking software, while piracy has adapted with stream-ripping the biggest concern for the industry.

Some illegal downloading may be the result of streaming exclusives. More than half (51%) of those who still access music illegally say they find it frustrating when releases are tied to one platform, while 44% say they only download illegally when they couldn’t access the music anywhere else.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI & BRIT Awards, said: “The YouGov survey is encouraging and chimes with the BPI’s data, suggesting that overall music piracy in the UK is falling. The BPI has been at the forefront of efforts to protect musicians and labels, removing more than 600 million illegal search results, securing court orders to block more than 60 major pirate sites, and leading Government-sponsored roundtables to secure effective new anti-piracy commitments from social media companies, digital advertisers, online marketplaces and search engines. In parallel, BPI member labels have licensed a wide range of digital music services, making it easy for consumers to access any music they want, affordably and legally on any device.

“Despite this progress, there are still plenty of sites trying to make money from distributing music illegally. The BPI’s campaign with the film industry, Get it Right, has helped to reduce P2P usage, but downloading from cyberlockers remains a significant issue as does stream ripping, despite the BPI’s involvement in shutting down youtube-mp3.org and other similar sites. We are committed to doing everything we can to protect the income of musicians and labels and to make the UK the best country in the world to invest in music”.

Justin Marshall, associate director, YouGov, said: “While illegal downloads still present a significant challenge to the music industry, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Our 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.” 

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