Is music piracy on the decline? Here’s what this survey says


The music industry has long been a prime target for piracy, but that seems to be changing in the UK. Only 15% of Britons downloaded songs and albums illegally in 2021, according to a report by the Intellectual Property Office. The organization surveyed 5,000 people in the UK about their music consumption habits between March and April 2021. Most of them listened to music during this time, either by downloading it, listening to it on streaming platforms or by purchasing physical media.

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Streaming, however, remains the most popular listening medium for many Britons. Over 40% of those surveyed by the Intellectual Property Office have used services like Spotify and Apple Music to listen to songs by their favorite artists. Only a quarter of those surveyed have downloaded music, and even fewer have purchased vinyl or CDs. The pandemic, a driver of change in music piracy

“Illegal downloading persists”

Illegal downloading persists, although it is down 3% in 2021. The most unscrupulous music lovers download songs and albums to create pirated copies. But it’s still a minority phenomenon: most music lovers prefer legal downloading and streaming to enjoy their favorite hobby.

The Intellectual Property Office explains this drop in piracy by the key role played by music and other forms of entertainment during the pandemic. “Most of the participants said that access to entertainment during the last year of lockdown has helped their mental health by distracting them from the day-to-day reality of the pandemic,” the organization explains in its annual report.

One question remains, however: at a time when streaming services offer access to catalogs of millions of songs, why still resort to music piracy? For convenience… and for lack of knowledge about certain features of Spotify and its competitors. Russ Crupnick, MusicWatch analyst, explained in April that most music lovers who hack do so to be able to listen to their favorite songs without having an internet connection. However, this option is offered by all streaming services.

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