Study Finds That Piracy Is Growing Rapidly and Becoming More Profitable…

Streaming services may be paying you pennies, but at least they’re lowering piracy.  But what if that isn’t true?

Enter Envisional, the research arm of NetNames that is finding massive and continued increases in media piracy.  And, an increasingly profitable black market.

Here’s the research synopsis from study author and Envisional Director of Piracy Analysis David Price.


open-quoteBack in 2011, we released a study under the name Envisional, which found out that 23.8 percent of worldwide bandwidth was being used for infringing content.  The absolute amount of bandwidth being used for infringing content grew by 160 percent over the period between 2010 and 2012.

For the 2013 study, we’re looking at a much wider range of data points.  As well as looking at the amount of infringing bandwidth that we see online, we’re also trying to estimate the number of users who are involved in accessing infringing content on a regular basis.  And we’re focused on three key regions, which are North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.  So in the 2013 study, what we’re looking at is any type of infringing content at all – film content, television, books, software, games, music.  The only thing we’re not looking at is pornography; it’s often very difficult to work out whether a piece of pornography is infringing or not.

So in November of 2011, we saw 297 million infringing users.  By January 2013, that figure has grown to 327 million unique internet users, who are accessing infringing content at least once a month.

In 2010, we measured 3,690 petabytes of infringing content, it’s the absolute amount of data that was being infringed.  By 2012, that had grown to 9,570 petabytes.  A petabyte is 1,000 terrabytes, a terrabyte is 1,000 gigabytes, and a gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes.  So you can see just how much content we’re talking about.


At present, there are three major types of piracy ecosystems that are used worldwide: they are BitTorrent, video streaming, and direct download cyberlockers.

So BitTorrent works, a user will typically go to a BitTorrent portal site.  They’ll download a tiny little file from there which links to a particular movie or television show, they’ll load that into their BitTorrent client, and they then join a swarm of other BitTorrent users all of whom possess that particular piece of content.  And they’re all sharing little bits of data between themselves, so eventually the user is able to download the entire show in one go.

The vast majority of BitTorrent sites make money through advertising.

You go to any of these sites and you’ll see banner adverts, pop-up adverts, they’re usually replete with adverts of all kinds, typically for things like casinos, dating sites, and download managers.

On the infringing video streaming ecosystem, what we typically find is a large number of linking sites that tend to index and collate content.  A user will go to one of these sites, search for the latest film or television episode they’re seeking, and the site then pushes them towards a hosting site, often called a video streaming cyberlocker, which actually hosts the video content that the user can then click and stream direct to their computer.

So most video streaming sites have a lot of advertising on them just as the BitTorrent sites do, but some of the video streaming sites also offer premium subscription.  They user pays a fee of anywhere between $5 and $10 a month, and for that they’re able to access the video without any advertising, or more video over a particular period of time.


So the piracy sites that we’ve focused on for this study are very much driven by profit: they are generating revenue from advertising, they are generating revenue sometimes from premium subscription fees.  And obviously when enforcement shuts these sites down and or shuts down their payment processors, it’s hitting directly at their revenue streams.

“So obviously what we’ve seen over the last two years is a significant rise in the amount of pirated content, and the amount of infringement that is taking place across the internet.”


57 Responses

  1. Avatar

    That’s a large increase, no doubt. Is it possible to place it in perspective, for example, to compare it to the total number of internet users (infringing and noninfringing) in 2013, or as a percentage of total bandwidth in 2013 (for example, the starting point of 23.8% of total worldwide bandwidth was cited as the starting point in 2011).

    • Avatar

      For over a decade, artists have struggled to find their voice and their power in a digital world that has tolerated online piracy and a tech industry that has shown little regard or compensation for artists and their work. For too long outsiders have been deciding the destiny of artists’ work for their own personal gain.

      What we really have is a perception problem. People, especially those who grew up with the internet, don’t always understand the connection between art and work. What started out as an opportunity of free access for everyone, has turned into an opportunity for artists to have their work abused by strangers for profit.

      But for those of you who actively follow artists’ digital rights, as I do, what we’ve seen over the past year is far more musicians speaking out about the challenges for survival artists are facing in the digital age.

      I believe that when artists step forward and share personal stories about a digital revolution that has marginalized the value of their work and made it nearly impossible to earn a living, only then will the audience begin to understand the importance of their support.

      A reasonable request, given the inspiration and joy that artists bring to peoples lives and the hypocrisy of singling out artists as unworthy of our support.

      After all, artists are only asking the audience and technology to hold up their end of the bargain; give something back of equal value in exchange for an artist’s work.

      Will Buckley, Founder FarePlay

  2. Avatar

    “there are three major types of piracy ecosystems that are used worldwide: they are BitTorrent, video streaming, and direct download cyberlockers”

    …and they all rely on one company:


    The company has finally — years after its competitors — closed it’s commercial portal to child porn. Now it needs to close its portal to organized copyright crime.

    Without Google’s help, the majority of illegal BitTorrent, video streaming and lockers will die.

  3. Avatar

    Before we start arbitrarily using this to “prove” streaming doesn’t work, can we some separation of numbers? How much of this is music vs TV vs film vs books vs games? The fact that the user to data ratio was so high makes me think people are pirating more larger content, ie HD movies/TV.

    • Avatar

      Before we start arbitrarily using this to “prove” streaming doesn’t work

      I think it’s fair to describe this as the current consensus on streaming:

      Music executives and analysts disagree about exactly what is causing this slowdown [singles=down; albums=up], but many cite streaming music services like Pandora, Spotify and YouTube as one possible cause

      Source: As Downloads Dip, Music Executives Cast a Wary Eye on Streaming Services

      New York Times forgets that content owners can use YouTube without cannibalization as long as you don’t upload entire songs and movies — but it goes without saying that nobody in her right mind is going to buy a song that she can stream for free.

      Why would she…

      • Avatar

        So you’re saying the consensus is people don’t agree about a possible cause? That’s not a consensus at all. It’s just pointing out what we already know, which is nobody knows/has any hard data. Once again, Thom Yorke can prove a lot by simply releasing Eraser numbers before and after he took them off Spotify. Or, did David Lowery ever release his album sales before/after streaming. Did he lose much, if any?

        • Avatar

          I don’t think it’s a huge leap in logic to conclude that streaming will cannibalize from sales. As people shift listening habits to streaming services (especially considering you can download tracks to devices), the money that would have gone to purchases will start to dry up.

          The current generation of teens and young adults are influencing parents who will use streaming or people are getting their music and streams bundles as part of their wireless or internet package…or some other bundle. In which case even less money is being paid into the system and people feel no cost at all for music. It devalues music because you no longer have any investment in it. It’s just an ancillary aspect of your life. I’m not saying you don’t love listening to music, but you don’t have the same passion for something that use to cost you $20 and you actually took pride in your music collection. It was part of who you were. How many times would you scan someone’s music when you went into their house?

          So I ask you…is it a giant leap to suggest that it’s likely as streaming becomes mainstream, that sales will drop further and further…and it takes a LOT of streams to equal one sale. If Spotify currently reports 20% of the catalogue has never been played…therefore making no one any money…what happens as that catalogue grows. I saw somewhere that we haven’t even scratched the surface right now of how much music is in catalogues but not yet digitally available yet.

          It’s gonna get really tough out there.

          • Avatar

            No, it’s not a big leap in theory and I’ve said on here in the past I’m 100% sure it happens because I know people that have switched over to solely premium streaming, whether it’s Spotify or whatever. I’ve also said a few times that there is obviously a tipping point if/when streaming gets incredibly popular, so I don’t disagree there. And lastly, to clarify, I’ve never said I think streaming will ever make back what piracy took away. I don’t even think streaming alone or streaming+DLs will ever really get back to 90s levels recorded income. So the issue, though, is how much damage it does at this moment/near future, and if it’s really a massive amount at this point in time. My problem with the argument is there are so many conflicting ideas people use in the quest to blame everything on streaming.

            It’s this back and forth of one day Spotify’s active user number is hugely inflated so nobody is streaming and the service is dying, yet streaming is solely responsible for a dip in album sales since 2008 yet album sales are up this year, but oh that must be because piracy is dead, but piracy is still growing, etc And then YouTube pays even shittier than streaming but that’s ok to people because YouTube gets a billion visitors a month! yet Spotify numbers often reach over 50%+ of the plays as Youtube with less than 5% of the users. Oh, but those users are all music nerds, not your average listeners, except the top plays lists all mirror top 40 radio pretty much exactly cuz you know, all those music nerds love Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus….etc. People are just so hellbent on railing against streaming they don’t even care about actually figuring out what is working and improving it.

            And last, you cannot use the 20% figure to mean anything. That’s another problem. Anyone’s failure as a musician is NOT some institutionalized conspiracy. It’s because they suck and/or have had no exposure and/or don’t know how to promote themselves and/or simply nobody likes them, yet or ever will. There’s this crazy notion floating around that someone being in a band prior to 2008 or 2000 had an exponentially greater chance of making it as a musician. No, countless people have failed since whenever you want to start the era of modern music. You think there weren’t millions of unbought CD titles in 1998?

          • Avatar

            I don’t know who is a musician on this blog aside from David Lowery, but here’s what some “random” musician friend had to say about today’s record biz:

            Oh yes of course its always been a shitty business no one denies that but at least musicians were given food and shelter, now they’re left in the desert. And see what you are forgetting is that apart from this game there did exist a very rich variety of niche artists, that may never had even the slightest chance of a TOP anything but yet they were on a small label that did what it could and so they had a career. Not a “on the cover of rolling stone magazine” career, no. But they were enabled to live their lives as musicians doing what they do; which is a luxury. They too were lucky to some extent yes but now they’ve all vanished.

          • Avatar

            Eh, I think this is an instance of looking through rose tinted glasses vs me not being alive back then, so neither of us have complete perspective. Off the bat, from what I’ve learned, I don’t disagree with the first sentence. I’ve toured with/set up tours for bands and there are still a few venues that will comp you a hot meal and even less that will give you a place to sleep (talking about smaller, don’t give a shit about riders venues). But if even just 5% of venues across the country ever did that it’d be more than now.

            The rest of what he said I don’t think has changed at all. I think at worst, the pros of the digital age even out losing the pros of the pre-digital age. I don’t think you can argue niche genres had bigger audiences before the internet. If anything, they’ve grown. Or a niche genre naturally became so obscure nobody cared about it. But to repeat something I said below, I truly believe piracy props up a ton of artists. This is not to say piracy is good across the board because of it, it is just one positive aspect. Measurable popularity puts acts on the festival circuit. Books them bigger rooms. Gets them more press. If they have a short lived career and run out of hype, it’s the materials fault more than piracy’s. We give too many acts too much credit simply for existing as bands. There were plenty of failed bands in 1974, as well. People need to quit acting like it’s some new thing.

        • Avatar

          “So you’re saying the consensus is people don’t agree about a possible cause?”

          I’m saying that NYT’s point — summed up in their headline below — describe the current consensus:

          As Downloads Dip, Music Executives Cast a Wary Eye on Streaming Services.

          And you still haven’t explained why anybody would pay her hard earned cash to buy songs she can hear for free…

          • Avatar

            Maybe they should take their wary eyes and dig up some data. Take some older record with leveled off sales, take it off Spotify, and in 6 months let us see the difference. Not sure why that’s so hard to do. Again, Thom and Nigel can show us right now.

            As for the second part, I never said they would, hence the idea of legal streaming being the best option the industry has come up with. Show me another, better one and I’ll gladly get behind it.

  4. Avatar
    News Reader

    I’d be curious to see how the increase in quality (aka file size) over the past couple of years has affected the spike in bandwidth being used for “piracy”. I don’t even think YouTube started offering 1080 HD until 2010, so as the video/audio quality goes up, so does the bandwidth needed to watch & listen. So maybe not all of this “growth” is from more people pirating… Maybe.

  5. Avatar

    Since the measure of growth is bandwidth, I would guess that high bandwidth users like film and TV are more important contributors than music. Especially the massive pirating of TV series like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.

  6. Avatar

    But I thought that Six Strikes and HADOPI (the new improved version) and jailing pirates in Japan and blocking sites in the UK and all the other things that are part of the new coordinated global anti piracy efforts would be making a significant dent in the media piracy problem?

    • Avatar

      Well, think again 🙂 Maybe this huge co-ordinated effort against piracy, is mostly something you just imagine and dream about.

      • Avatar

        If piracy continues to grow, it obviously proves the need of more enforcement.

        The internet is very new from a historic perspective, and its specific pirate/pedophile/drug-problems are still new to many politicians and media.

        But don’t worry — the deaths of ‘immortal’ crime sites like MegaUpload, SilkRoad and IsoHunt opened a lot of sleepy eyes.

        And each new dramatic event has severe consequences for organized crime:

        Vpn’s are no longer reliable, TOR is now known as the hotline to NSA, etc.

        So stay tuned, the next few years will absolutely blow your mind. 🙂

  7. Avatar

    Bullshit, Paul. This is a worldwide study… not only does this study not suggest that any of the growth in number of users downloading content illegally at least once per month took place in any of the countries where legal streaming is taking hold, it doesn’t even say if that growth was even music-related. To the contrary, several more specific studies have, instead, pointed specifically towards music piracy falling in several countries where legal streaming has taken hold. Trying to contradict those studies with these vague data points is beyond irresponsible.

    I would guess that most of the 10% growth in users downloading content illegally at least once per month is taking place in Asia, where domestic legal streaming services haven’t taken off. That hasn’t stopped Spotify from naming it their #1 priority in terms of expansion, but in a lot of these countries physical piracy has never been controlled, so convincing these users that legal streaming is a necessary alternative to illegal downloading won’t be an easy task, if it’s even possible at all. To that point, over 80 percent of Chinese internet users surveyed indicated that they “cannot accept music downloading is not free,” according to P5W.

    Furthermore, the increase of data is a function of bandwidth increasing globally. Files (specifically video files) over time become larger because increased bandwidth allows for greater resolution playback. Fewer infractions could be occurring & data would still be increasing for some time as users adopt higher resolution formats. The fact that this guys says “Look at these big numbers of data! That’s a lot of data! Let me explain how much data that is…” makes the presentation very suspect. Without comparing it to total worldwide bandwidth growth, it doesn’t mean anything.

    The real statistic to determine growth of piracy (or lack thereof) is total number of infractions. Without that statistic, you can use the numbers to paint any picture you want. And it’s clearly missing here.

    • Avatar
      David Price

      Hey jw –

      I authored the study, so let me address some of your comments.

      1. We didn’t focus this study on music or any type of content and we’re not making claims on any country basis. This looked regionally and we didn’t deep-dive into specific countries in this report. It’s something we will try and do going forward, when the data is available.

      2. Growth in Asia: China is actually quite well served by legit streaming services but they tend to be film and tv focused rather than music focused. Again, as with #1, this didn’t look primarily at music and given the relatively small file sizes of music compared to film / software / games, whatever growth in bandwidth we saw will be disporportionately down to those types of content rather than music.

      3. The growth in file size is something we did address in the full report (it looks like the DMN study works off the 5 min highlight video we upped to YouTube to go alongside the report – you can get the whole 100 page delightful bundle of methodology-heavy research here: File size *has* increased but it is only a small factor in the bandwidth increase. For instance, the average size of films increased by around 26% between 2011 and 2013 while infringing bandwidth went up by much much more.

      Hope that’s all some help….

      • Avatar

        Thanks for the response, David. That does help.

        The 23% stat is insightful. Adjusted for “inflation,” the data consumed double, rather than the 159% growth. Due to varying file sizes, like you said, it’s tough to extrapolate growth of actual # of infringements. It would seem to me that bandwidth advances over the past few years has allowed access to larger files that previously weren’t available, which would suggest to me that the growth is disproportionately video/software/etc, simply because the piracy of smaller sized files like music seems to be more mature. So I would guess that the growth of total infractions is less than the adjusted growth of consumed data (i.e., I would find it hard to believe that total infractions doubled year-over-year). Does that sound accurate to you? And is there specific data related to total infringements or frequency of infringements per user in the study?

        Also, beyond the 23% growth, it would be interesting to know the increase of video file sizes specifically. If the growth of video size is greater than 23%, we could infer that the total number of infringements of small size files increased in number disproportionately. But what I would guess is that the format of mainstream infringing video content is likely still low resolution (<1gb) or standard resolution (1-3gb), rather than hi or full resolution (3-7gb). It would seem like the mainstream adoption of full resolution, blu-ray quality video is still in the future, if it ever happens at all.

        Going to give the full study a deeper look later on. Thanks for the clarifications.

  8. Avatar

    I guess it’s certainly possible, but I expect as more people have access to the internet in general that the actual percentage of people pirating might not have changed. And this doesn’t say much for the type of media being pirated so it’s more than possible that while TV pirating has gone up, that music pirating has gone down. Regardless, there isn’t anything that can be done. I think if anything it’s a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ sort of thing and it’ll be up to the content providers to figure out how to join in. I don’t think any of this means that streaming services (spotify, rhapsody, deezer, torch music…) aren’t deterring pirating as many other studies have shown they are.

    • Avatar

      “Regardless, there isn’t anything that can be done”

      That’s exactly what everybody said about mainstream piracy on YouTube a few years ago.

      Today, it’s dead .

      Mainstream piracy on the rest of the web can be dead tomorrow. It’s entirely a matter of politics.

      • Avatar

        Oh really? I see mainstream piracy on YouTube every day. Movies, music, TV…it’s all up there and it’s being posted faster than it can be reported. Google makes a considerable amount of money from infringement. While Google reports statistics on takedowns for URL’s, they do not report stats on YouTube. I wonder why that is?

        • Avatar

          “I see mainstream piracy on YouTube every day”

          No, you don’t.

          What’s confusing you is that most content providers today chose to monetize unauthorized uploads, instead of taking them down.

          We all benefit from that — but the real winner is Google.

          You have to understand that they didn’t come up with ContentID because they like artists. On the contrary; they’re at constant war with Hollywood, record companies, writers, publishers, inventors, designers, tech companies and musicians to name a few.

          And for one reason only: Their business model is to take your Intellectual Property and make it available for free via ad-financed web services.

          The only reason they created the perfect solution to YouTube’s exploding piracy problem was the guns pointing at their heads at the time. Without ContentID, YouTube had been dead today.

          And even heavier artillery is coming at them now. Google Search is the world’s largest portal to organized crime, and their only way out is to go legit like YouTube.

          How they’re going to do that is anybody’s guess. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they invent a search engine equivalent to ContentID.

          Imagine the income they could generate — in an entirely legitimate way — if they monetized all pirated content on the web.

          At any rate, the choice is theirs: They can go with the flow, as they did with YouTube, or they can break like a stick.

  9. Avatar
    Pie Rate

    but… but… “Visitor” has assured us, hundreds of times, that no one likes Pirates any more. 🙂

    What I think is happening: music piracy is falling off as interest in music falls off. But, TV and movie piracy is skyrocketing, and those files are a lot larger.

    • Avatar

      I think interest in music is higher than ever. It’s just a lot more fleeting because, as someone said, people don’t get invested as much unless they LOVE something.

      But somehow that’s listeners’ fault and not the endless stream of mediocre acts entering the music universe.

      • Avatar

        “I think interest in music is higher than ever”

        No doubt about it — but the real winner is the music video.

        You somehow seem to deny that, or perhaps look at it as a failure, and I really don’t understand get it.

        Fans have always loved visual material; album covers, magazine pics, movies, posters, vids. And most artists like to work with the visual side as well, so I don’t see the problem…

        • Avatar

          No, you just completely skewed what I said about music videos one time, and also don’t grasp a core concept about YouTube. It blows my mind you actually think every YouTube view represents a person sitting there staring at the screen. Look up any popular song and there will be tens of millions of plays on “videos” that are nothing more than a photo of the artist or the album cover. All I’ve ever said “against” videos isn’t even anything against videos. It’s that YouTube is a home jukebox as much as anything and the idea you think the act of consuming music purely aurally is going to go away is crazy. There are countless things a person can do while listening to music without wanting or having to put a visual on.

          • Avatar

            “the idea you think the act of consuming music purely aurally is going to go away is crazy”

            That all depends on the market.

            Songs without videos will be produced as long as consumers pay for them in one way or another.

          • Avatar

            Just because a song has a video doesn’t mean people won’t want to just listen to the song when they are running or in the car or on the subway or partying with friends, etc etc etc. Videos have been around long enough to understand this. Hell, MTV started nosediving before YouTube exploded anyway.

            I don’t disagree that a video might drive people to a song. Look at Psy. Nobody would have given a shit about Gangnam Syle if it wasn’t for a fat guy dancing a horse dance. So you will get no argument from me in that respect. But I’ve heard Blurred Lines blasting from enough car windows to know that song was not contained by a video with tits.

    • Avatar

      “but… but… “Visitor” has assured us, hundreds of times, that no one likes Pirates any more”

      And that’s the truth, baby… 🙂

      • Avatar
        Pie Rate

        World Nations, listed by population:

        1. China, 1,360,630,000
        2. India, 1,235,450,000
        3. Pirate Nation, 327,000,000
        4. United States, 316,909,000
        5. Indonesia, 237,641,000

        (Pirate Nation population from the study above; the rest from Wikipedia)

        • Avatar

          You forgot the latest population numbers from…

          *Junkie Nation
          *Racist Nation
          *Domestic Violence Nation
          *Homophobic Nation
          *Shoplifter Nation
          *Hooker Nation
          *Alcoholic Nation
          *Pedophilia Nation

          Most — if not all of ’em — beats Pirate Nation hands down.

          Does that makes them popular?

        • Avatar

          Piracy Nation is likely larger because they can’t count offline piracy (which according to RIAA studies is how most piracy happens anyway), darknets, people sharing the same IP (verrry common)

  10. Avatar

    GGG, is ALWAYS ALWAYS talking about yorke or folks releasing numbers….downloads and streams of all music contain peaks and valleys. If you worked as a professional songwriter in todays climate…streaming doesnt make one bit of sense. NOT ONE. Spotify doesnt help discovery and neither do the other streaming platforms. We as professional songwriters could own 1/3 of a records publishing on a top 40, hot 100 record and still make little to nothing. I’m sorry GGG and the folks just like you but its not that we songwriters have a problem with streaming, its that we cant pay our damn bills from streaming money…Whether its piracy or streaming, we’re getting robbed left and right. I can make more from 3,000 paid downloads than i can from 1 million streams and thats proven.

    • Avatar

      Streaming is a longterm play. When Daniel Ek says that the company is focusing on exposure rather than profitability, unfortunately that trickles down to songwriters & performers. But that will not be the strategy indefinitely. At some point Spotify will have to discontinue or severely limit free streaming, because the proven profitable premium streaming is only partially subsidizing free listening (along with ad revenue & venture capital).

      The situation is this… if Spotify were to nix the free service right now, the payout rate would change… your ratio of downloads to streams would change. But the total number of streams would fall drastically, & total payout wouldn’t climb, it would actually drop. And there’s no indication that digital downloads or cd or vinyl sales would increase. Though there are indications that piracy would increase.

      So this is a scenario is kind of like… “let’s all tighten our belts for a while until Spotify accumulates enough active free users that when they pull the rug out from under the free users, enough users stick around as premium subscribers to really impact total revenue for the recorded music industry.” Essentially it’s a bait & switch, but that’s the process of evolving mainstream consumers to a new format.

      The company will continue to lose money & won’t be profitable to anyone until this switch happens. But when it does happen, imagine mainstream music fans paying $60-$120/year, versus what they were paying even at the peak of the recorded music industry. The potential upside is huge, & that’s why I think everyone should be supporting Spotify in spite of what they receive on their quarterly royalty statements. But even if you think that’s idealistic, I have no reason to believe that streaming is cannibalizing sales, so it’s money left on the table, however little, if you choose to remove your music.

      At least that’s the way I understand it.

        • Avatar

          You laugh, but the industry is in the shape it’s in for refusing to think longterm about anything. Had the industry started thinking about technology & distribution in a longterm sense a decade ago, the transition would’ve been much, much less painful. Them’s just the cold, hard facts.

          • Avatar

            “You laugh, but the industry is in the shape”

            I’m no f*cking industry, and there’s no way I’m gonna wait until 2153 for Spotify to pay me the same money I get from iTunes every year.

            The long tail’s a fairy tale.

          • Avatar

            “No way I’m gonna wait until 2153.”

            Nice sentiment. What are you going to do about it? What are your options? Just curious.

          • Avatar

            “What are you going to do about it?”

            That’s easy: Just stay away from Spotify.

    • Avatar

      I talk about releasing numbers because people talk about cannibalizing sales all the time. If it’s cannibalizing sales, prove it, and I’ll say “OK, streaming cannibalizes sales!”

      Please show me the math for that last part. If you’re on a major label, a song is grossing $2100 by 3K sales. If you stream 1M times, that song is (by accounts on this very site) grossing up to $8K. If you make less from the latter, that’s not streaming money’s fault, that’s another issue, either your PRO, your label, your publisher, etc.

      • Avatar

        Here’s where I think the shift hurts what would be, in book publishing, the mid-list.

        My interests are pretty niche: classical, world, folk, and I used to listen to lots of obscure rock bands before I got old. Many of the albums I buy sell 300-5000 copies worldwide.

        Pre-2000, there was little unpaid exposure for this music — at best, listening stations at Tower or Borders. I had to buy an awful lot of albums to determine if I would like them. I used to estimate that if I liked 20% of the albums I bought, I was doing pretty good. Lots of albums never got played more than once or twice.

        In the internet era, first with highly-specialized net radio and now moving into streams, I can sample before I buy. A lot of stuff that I paid for pre-2000 — and resented — now gets listened to once or twice via streaming, and that is enough.

        So the market where culture vultures like me would pay $15 to hear an album once or twice is gone.

        • Avatar

          You bring up a good point, that for me points to one of those good vs bad internal dialogues. For instance, you’re talking about pre-2000 consumption. I think taking a risk on a record was part of the game of buying music so I don’t really fault artists for that, but it was still sort of unfair for consumers. And at the same time, at $15 bucks a pop people couldn’t afford to even take chances on a lot of music. Now they can, legally or illegally. I also think there’s a lot to be said about a la carte DLs. How many CD sales were from people just wanting a single? A shitload. As soon as you could just pick and choose songs, albums took a massive dip. And people complained about that for years until a scapegoat came along and now it’s suddenly not an issue people talk about. It’s related to the whole wrongness of the long tail. Single sales of top tracks have gone up while Spotify has existed. And YouTube views skyrocket. It’s sad to say but albums are becoming more and more irrelevant to the Top 40 culture.

          So you need what, like 120 streams to equal a DL? We’ve all been obsessed with tracks before, ten people could get that in one day. So then the question obviously becomes, well, would those 10 people have bought the single, and you’d have $7 instead of 70 cents? That’s what I’m curious to know, and that’s why data would be great. If single sales go up or at least don’t fall, then maybe a ton of these plays really are people who never would have bought the single. As I’ve said before even at the height of CD sales, hits that sold millions still only sold to a tiny fraction of the population. And I don’t think that meant nobody else liked the music. It just meant people didn’t buy music for whatever reason. Now, we can potentially (and potentially already are) monetizing all these people that were not even potential customers before, or very low-probability customers.

          And for the record, no, I don’t think (at this level of active users) it’s feasible for every artist to have their stuff streamed 120x expected sales. I think hits might be hitting those levels, and would certainly surpass them at say 50M+ users.

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    BTW GGG, VISUALS er “MUSIC VIDEOS” drive singles and success….they are more important now than ever. If you worked in the music industry as a professional songwriter, at a label etc youd understand that. However, there are songs that take off despite it….but those are the rare exceptions. People connect with visuals and BLURRED LINES took off due to its video. When the video was shot thats when the promotion department at Interscope realized they had a hit….the song was brought in before and no one was excited.

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      I’m not surprise that the marketing department at Interscope wasn’t excited about Blurred Lines. That seems par for the course. Those departments respond to controversy, not great music (not that I think Blurred Lines is particularly great, but it’s certainly a cheap imitation of something great). It’s just another example of the industry having it’s head up it’s ass, which has been going on since the ’90s.

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      Sorry, I know you’re on some mission to “get” me, but I’m not even arguing this point. The argument is whether songs can exist outside music videos. And based on the absurd amount of times I’ve heard Blurred Lines with no tits or models in site, the answer is yes, they can.

      Also, I’m assuming you’re an adult so you can probably figure out how the “reply” function works.

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