Music streaming killed music piracy, right? Not exactly.
Last February, a study published on Digital Music News showed that 20% of Americans actively pirated music. In fact, 35 percent of Americans who buy music legitimately have also acquired music illegally at some point.
In a joint study published seven months later, researchers found that legal threats had no effect on curbing piracy. They found that people perceive the risks of music piracy as just too low to affect current behaviors. Furthermore, these same people perceived the benefits of pirating as far too juicy to resist.
Thankfully for the music industry, the surging popularity of legitimate music streaming put a dent in active music piracy.
At the same time, however, streaming has given birth to a new form of piracy: stream ripping.
Music streaming services are unquestionably on the rise, according to the IFPI. More people prefer to listen to their favorite artists and tunes using services like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music. In March, Spotify reported 50 million paid subscribers. Apple Music reported 20 million paid subscriptions in less than two years (and sharply rising).
But times are changing just as quickly on the piracy front. A chart by Statista shows that stream ripping has become the norm when illegally accessing music.
Recently, the IFPI commissioned research firm Ipsos Connect to survey over 12,600 internet users in 13 countries. IFPI underscored how copyright infringement currently harms the industry. The results weren’t pretty.
49% of 16 to 24 year olds surveyed preferred to illegally save their music on their devices while listening to streaming. Close to 55% in this group admitted to accessing music in “copyright infringing ways” in the past six months. For those aged 25 to 34, the stream ripping number fell slightly to 40%. Over 45% in this age, however, admitted to illegally acquiring music in the past six months.
Among all age groups, downloading music on piracy networks, like The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent, fell.
In terms of sex, more men actively stream ripped their favorite music than women, 35% to slightly over 20%. Men also preferred using other means of piracy to access their tunes. Downloading among both age groups, however, fell to 23% and 16%, respectively.
How do listeners prefer to stream rip? While not naming the service outright, right before showing stream ripping stats, the IFPI noted,
“YouTube is the most used music service: 82 per cent of all YouTube visitors use it for music. More people use YouTube to consume music they already know than to discover new content.”
So, why has stream ripping has become the most popular method of acquiring music illegally? Thanks to small tools made freely available. Statistica explains,
“However, now that a lot of music is available on YouTube or similar platforms, all it takes is a small tool to rip and save the song you are looking for.”
In fact, stream ripping provides users with a cleaner way to pirate, albeit still illegally.
Statista finished their analysis of IFPI’s study, saying,