If You Bought Every Torrented Copy of ‘Beyoncé’ It Would Cost $3.8M…

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Beyoncé’s self-titled album is still at the top of the Billboard 200. The album sold about one million copies in the first week. It is the 12th best selling album of the year, even though it was only released on December 13th.

If this many people paid for the album then how many people felt entitled to a free copy?

Beyoncé was illegally downloaded 240,000 times during release week.

If these 240,000 downloads were purchased they would bring in about $3.8 million.

This chart from Musicmetric shows bittorrent downloads of the album. Downloads were previously flat at about 3K, but sharply rose on the day of release. Illegal downloads peaked at 55,446 the day after release.

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Beyoncé’s albums were bittorrented a total of 2,023,845 times this year. Downloads of catalogue releases picked up after the new release, recently peaking at 11,588 illegal downloads in one day.

Graph source: Musicmetric

36 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Could be a lot worse. There’s no doubt that investors will continue to finance music for that segment in the future and go on cutting investments in rap, rock and other styles that cater to 12-28 year old males.

    Good news for girl pop.

    • Faza (TCM)

      Unless, of course, they decide that the 12-18 male segment is no longer the main “target” pirate group. If consumers of girl pop are seen as equally tech savvy and payment averse, it may well disincentivise further investment – apart from artists like Beyonce, who already have an established paying market and are likely to retain a large portion of it.

      It cuts both ways and investment in artist development is where piracy does the real damage.

      • Anonymous

        “If consumers of girl pop are seen as equally tech savvy and payment averse”

        Tech savvy, yes. Payment averse, probably. But criminal, no.

        That’s why the big money will continue to go to girl pop development, and the big champagne faces on the front page of Digital Music News will remain female for ever (no, it’s not just because Paul never updates them. 🙂

        “investment in artist development is where piracy does the real damage”

        Yes, the more pirates steal, the less they get.

        • Nina Ulloa

          Yeah, because we didn’t just have Daniel ek….independent dude musicians…. Thom Yorke…beck….etc etc etc

          • Nina Ulloa

            “the big champagne faces on the front page of Digital Music News will remain female for ever (no, it’s not just because Paul never updates them. :)”

        • Faza (TCM)

          That really depends whether we consider a quarter of official sales pirated using one of many available channels, as measured by one methodology (which may or may not give accurate results) as good or bad.

          If it’s good, then all’s well with the world. If it’s bad, then that’s plenty criminal as far as I’m concerned. Not the actual downloaders, mind, but the people who facilitate the downloading (lest we forget the difference between garden-variety and criminal infringement).

          That said, I do think it’s likely that the aforementioned young male segment is more prone to piracy and more likely to come up with the kind of justifications – nay, praises – of the activity we would expect from such a segment. Which actually bodes ill for all of us who aren’t particularly enamoured of girl pop. It takes all sorts, eh?

          • Anonymous

            “I do think it’s likely that the aforementioned young male segment is more prone to piracy”

            I just saw the list over most stolen visual entertainment in 2013. Here’s the top: World War Z, Iron Man 3, Breaking Bad and Man of Steel. I rest my case. 🙂

            “Which actually bodes ill for all of us who aren’t particularly enamoured of girl pop”

            Love the one you’re with. 🙂

            Seriously, I just love music — I enjoy writing for any segment, and there’s no ****ing way I’m ever going to write for thieves again.

  2. Versus

    That’s already an intolerable level of theft, but it’s not even the entire story. What about all the other means of piracy?

    • Anonymous

      You can’t accurately measure most forms of piracy. Offline piracy (sharing songs using USB sticks or local area networks) is arguably the main way most people get pirated music, but probably not new songs/albums like these.

  3. Manager

    Beyoncé will be selling out arenas for years to come off the back of those torrents.

  4. TuneHunter

    So we can see the flow, we can precisely measure the flow of it but we cannot kill it.

    Google has expertise how to stop it but Google loves the advertising cash.
    They are just blinded by advertising – net result 50 billions of goodwill in simple and pure sales is converted to five billions in ADVERTISING. Still nice but stupid!

    Google and other ID providers have to start mandatory sale of music and lift the industry from 16 to 100 billion by 2020.

    Free ID with ad income on the way to free music is just uncalled for business grotesque.

    • Anonymous

      “Google has expertise how to stop it but Google loves the advertising cash”

      Yes. Let’s hope Google stops its piracy support when YouTube Music launches.

      Would save several industries…

      • Nina Ulloa

        Back to the ” old guys yelling at fast trains” thing. You can’t just snuff it out and then the industry will magically be saved. The business model of yesterday isn’t working today.

        • TuneHunter

          Nina, What kind of business model there is behind three click TOTAL OWNERSHIP for FREE?

          click #1: Shazam
          click #2: Share w/ MP3 viaShazam (free Android app)
          click #3 Download.

          ALL FREE.

          Advertising and subs is actually old school and will not do.

          • Nina Ulloa

            viaShazam or whatever has nothing to do with Shazam so why do you group them into one. i can download any song i want for free on the internet so let’s just shut the whole internet down?

          • TuneHunter

            This is current market situation, w/ Shazam as a integral and necessary part of the FREE!

        • Anonymous

          Hm, let’s see — which industry creates more joy, love and life in your opinion?

          1) The movie industry?
          2) The music industry?
          3) The software industry?
          4) The piracy industry?

          Digital Music News readers know you’ll say number 4, Nina. But would you care to explain why? Please be as specific as you can.

          Bear in mind that number 4 destroys number 1, 2 and 3 without creating anything in return. Which is why old school pro-pirates like you are becoming so unpopular these days, while a new generation of music fans do their best to protect the bands they love against abuse.

          • Nina Ulloa

            Better get a new crystal ball. I’m under 25 and ….shocker…. I don’t torrent music I actually buy it.

        • Faza (TCM)

          Care to consider why, Nina? Let me count the ways:

          1. We’re still debating whether piracy might be a good thing, instead of jailing and bankrupting those who run for-profit pirate operations. Those two things are what make any property law work and we should be thankful that they apply offline, for the most part.

          2. We’re still debating whether Spotify can save the music industry from decline, despite the fact that they’ve burned through a quarter of a billion dollars so far and not even made a penny of profit, nor do they seem likely to do so in the near future. They’ve been doing this for five years and have thus far proved incapable of making enough to support their own company, let alone anyone else. Moreover, if we actually look at how their business works – based on the information they themselves provide – we can see that there is no possible way they could ever provide a meaningful income to anyone except the major catalogue holders (and even that, grudgingly). I can take you through the maths, if you wish.

          3. Ever since Napster, every new idea in the business has boiled down to how can we have music consumers pay less than they have previously, whilst competing with folks who can always offer a better price (see #1) and more variety than we can (since they don’t need no steenkin’ licenses). How can we possibly be surprised that the industry is going down the drain?

          The point of this business – any business – is to make money. This means charging as much as we can get away with and making sure that nobody’s lifting our wares to sell off the back of the van. It was always so and still is, except that these days the internet really does seem to be infecting everyone with the stupids.

          • TuneHunter

            Hey Faza,
            It looks like you are one of the few who grasps the whole picture.
            Investigate if you have connection to Oprah!
            Industry is so confused and lost that only opportunity for new life is noise generated by someone like Oprah.

            Bunch of golf playing cooks giving away the business will not do!

          • GGG

            “This means charging as much as we can get away with and making sure that nobody’s lifting our wares to sell off the back of the van. It was always so and still is…”

            This is exactly why people turned to piracy so much. You didn’t get away with it last time, in the end. The nature of music in the digital age is one of consuming a TON of music. You vinyl generation people really need to understand that people in my generation don’t sit in front of the stereo and zone into the music like you did. We have way too many leisure opportunities, from 1500 TV channels, to video games that require 200+ hours to beat, to all the shit you can do on the internet, etc. And look, I’m not saying I like this, I’m not defending my gen vs yours. It’s just changed. Many of us still do listen to a record 100 times and absorb every note, but we’re few and far between. Even the biggest music fans these days, it’s about staying hip which means hearing every new band that gets remotely praised in the blogosphere. They want to listen to more but would never be able to afford it. So do we say, “tough shit, you don’t deserve to hear my music” or do we figure out a way to fix that?

          • Anonymous

            I don’t think we should let Nina get away with the cheapest pirate trick of them all — playing one generation out against another.

            The truth is that All generations are hurt by piracy. Culturally and financially.

            And nobody wants the creative industries to die.

            The creative industries are old because we have allowed them to grow old — and we have allowed them to grow old because we can’t live without the products they make:

            Music, literature and movies.

            This is especially true for the criminal segment: Take a look at the lists over most stolen songs and movies. Nobody loves major labels and Hollywood more than pirates.

          • GGG

            This isn’t really relevant to what I was saying at all. My point is, let’s say we eliminate piracy. Ok, great, but the internet is still here, which means mass amounts of music will continue to be exposed to varying degrees. And even if every last second of music consumption online is legal, the weight of a new record or listening to a record is not what it was in 1971. You can’t attach that mindset, the one of save up all your money, go to the record store, peruse all the releases, pick a couple, go home, drop the needle and absorb the music, to people today. Listening habits are just not the same, and I think it’s silly to ignore that.

          • Anonymous

            “This isn’t really relevant to what I was saying at all”

            I’m just saying we should be careful not to make this into a Generation A vs. Generation B war. Because it isn’t.

            “Listening habits are just not the same, and I think it’s silly to ignore that.”

            You’re kicking in doors that have been open for a decade. Nobody cares about needles and 1971. Again, we’re all in it together (minus the Nina-segment).

          • Anonymous

            “we should be wanting as many people as possible to hear our music and find a way to monetize that”

            Nobody would disagree with that. Every possible monetizing avenue should be explored, period.

            But that’s just one part — though a very important one — of the challenge.

            My broken record is, of course, that we also need to help politicians understand how easy it is to kill mainstream piracy if that’s what we want.

            And I do think it’s what most people want. Everybody in the community, on and off the web, talked like Nina 7-8 years ago, but then the mood started to change. First I thought it was just some kind of zeitgeitst thing, or that it had to do with the financial crisis. But perhaps it’s just because fans interact more and more intimately with artists, to the point of actually seeing them as friends. And who wants to steal from a friend…

          • Anonymous

            I know it might be hard to swallow fellow Anontard, but you forgot to consider that politicians barely give a shit about the needs of the country. Why do you think give a shit about the needs of the music industry?

            If you start involving the government in solving your problems, don’t be surprised when you don’t get what you ask for. Don’t be surprised if you get the exact opposite of what you asked for.

          • Nina Ulloa

            I have no idea what you’re talking about, when did I say we should all be downloading free shit?

            “You can’t just snuff it out and then the industry will magically be saved.”

            Literally you can’t…how are you going to that? Even if you could flip a switch and turn off piracy how does streaming fit into the current biz model, does it mesh well?

          • TuneHunter

            I agree with you, and it was same in the past – out of say 1000 CDs I have there is few songs I have listened to more than 20x.
            So the toll has to be taken at the discovery moment – I mention always 39 cents to be credible with current $1.29 sticker price made for nerds or very honest ones.

            Proper execution of discovery moment monetization can deliver 100B global industry with just 25 cent/tune toll.

            We can have profitable subscription free Spotify, royalty free Radio converted to music stores and profitable Shazam paying back to illogical investors.

  5. hippydog

    What I would like to know is after the release, how many of those torrents were the video album? or were they just the mp3’s audio only?

  6. CBQ

    I imagine very few of those who illegally downloaded the work would have gone out and bought it if they hadn’t been able to download it for free. It’s the old hometaping is killing music argument – it’s not – these are not lost sales, merely people taking advantage of (albeit illegal) free stuff.

    GGG is right – people nowadays don’t really listen to music the way people did in the 70s did – so they don’t want to pay for it unless they are really into it – even then they are often paying for packaging rather than the music itself (e.g. vinyl sales – what kind of an idiot buys vinyl when they can have crystal clear sound on a CD? – especially when almost all albums nowadays are recorded digitally in the first place?).

    Casual listeners want it for free

    • TuneHunter

      You can keep replaying 100x your UNMARKED 60s Shazam catch in next 72 hours before you add it to your environment for just 39 cents.


      Labels are in the bed with Google and Spotify in blind race to streaming and advertising – so we are screwed!
      … unless Oprah with Mel Watt and their mega star music friends will lobby-in new
      “fair use doctrine”.

      100B industry within 3 years with all current, confused players on the way to mega profits.
      I just can not picture single loser in this new arrangement.

      • Nina Ulloa

        that is such a niche thing. it would be cool…but no it would not save the industry.

        • TuneHunter

          Far from niche.
          It allows for conversion of 100,000+ Radio stations and over million websites in to music merchants.
          I agree that toothpaste is “out of the tube”, but bold moves done by key players can put ID providers for the first time ever on profitable to all path.