Streaming Kills Piracy, Yet Piracy Boosts Concert Sales. Any Questions?

YouGov says people now pirate less in the UK thanks to streaming music services.  MUSO disputes that fact.  Yet, a separate study reveals piracy may lead to higher concert and music festival sales.

According to a new report, streaming music platforms have actually lowered piracy.

YouGov’s Music Report found that one in ten Britons (10%) download music illegally, down from 18% in 2013.  And, that number will soon decrease.

Among those who admitted downloading music illegally, 63% expect to “use unverified sources” in five years.  22% say they’ll likely stop.  Underscoring the effectiveness of the music industry’s global efforts to eradicate piracy, 36% say accessing illegal music has become more difficult.

The rise of streaming music services – Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer, TIDAL – has curbed piracy.  Six in ten (63%) users that stopped downloading copyrighted content now use streaming music services.

Several respondents explained why they made the switch.

“It is now easier to stream music than to pirate it.  And the cost is not prohibitive.”

“Spotify has everything from new releases to old songs.  It filled the vacuum.  There was no longer a need for using unverified sources.”

The global public opinion data company explained that its study reveals a notable change in behavior.  Previously, those who turned to piracy have become “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.

Interestingly enough, YouGov found music exclusives – most notoriously Apple Music and TIDAL – actually boost piracy.  51% of ‘pirates’ found it ‘frustrating’ when one service released ‘exclusive’ music.  So, 44% turned to piracy after they couldn’t access ‘exclusives’ through legal means.

The global public opinion data company surveyed 4,009 adults in the UK between March 6th-13th.

But, are the findings merely a false positive?

MUSO, a leading piracy-tracking company, quickly disputed the results.

In its Global Piracy Report for 2017, MUSO tracked 300 billion visits to piracy sites, up 1.6% year-over-year.  In the UK alone, streaming music piracy increased 21%.

According to Christopher Elkins, MUSO’s Chief Strategy Officer, YouGov’s study contradicts its own findings.

He explains,

“The YouGov survey indicates more people opting to use streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, but, conversely, our data highlights that there is still a large audience in the UK choosing to use piracy streaming platforms.  Piracy remains a significant challenge, but also presents a huge opportunity for the UK music industry to engage these fans in the long term.”

Interestingly enough, YouGov and MUSO’s respective studies omit one key finding – pirates also consume content legally.  And, piracy consumption may actually lead to higher revenue streams for the live concert industry.

Wait.  Piracy helps concert and music festival sales?

That’s according to a recently-published study.

Contradicting MUSO’s findings, the University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Information Law (IViR) found the number of pirates has decreased across Europe.

The Global Online Piracy Study reveals the number of admitted pirates has fallen 2% in three years in the UK.  Illegal access to content has also plummeted in notorious piracy hubs – Poland and Spain.

Researchers at IViR noted that illegal music consumption primarily affected download revenue and physical sales.  Despite MUSO’s claims, IViR didn’t notice a “statistically significant” impact on streaming music revenue.  As YouGov explained, that’s likely due to services providing easy access to millions of tracks.

So, pirates can consume music legally with relative ease.  Yet, they can’t easily consume the experience of concerts and music festivals.

The report notes,

“Online piracy may also enhance the demand for complementary products such as live concerts and merchandise.  On the downside, the most prominent effect is obviously substitution: a consumer refrains from buying specific content legally after having acquired or consumed it from an illegal source.”

IViR found every ten music albums pirated leads to three extra concert/festival visits.   Piracy also has a greater impact on net sales revenue for “films, series, and books than for music.”

Lower income also leads to higher piracy rates.  Due to rampant poverty in their respective countries, people in Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, and Poland are more likely to pirate than users in affluent countries.

Yet, researchers found the legal media consumption of most pirates – primarily young males – is twice that of non-pirating users.

In fact, an effective strategy against piracy may never materialize.  Despite the prevalence of legal services, piracy will ultimately remain a personal preference for each user.

The report notes,

“From the observation…that consumption from legal and illegal sources go hand in hand for an overwhelming majority (>95%) of pirates, it follows that changes in personal preferences over time affect legal and illegal consumption alike.”


Featured image by Kickize (CC by 2.0)

3 Responses

  1. Versus

    “an effective strategy against piracy may never materialize…”

    A few strategies:
    1. Conscience; the creators, publishers, producers, studios etc. should be paid for their work
    2. Tech: DRM, blocking and shutting down of pirate sites
    3. Legal: fines and penalties applied consistently

    • Daniel Sanchez

      Yet, as history has shown, those strategies have failed spectacularly.

    • Make it happen

      DRM:act like electronic arts. Lock down games with activations that make them unplayable after certain number of installs so even if you have legal copies they become unplayable.
      Blocks sites and make the internet a maze of blackouts that’s as unusable as the games I just mentioned becuase said video that was pirated was on twitter now you have a mess and legislation was crafted by someone who knows as much about the the internet as a cavemen knows about how to use virtual reality so does the lobbyist that got him to do it.
      3: fines and imprisonment. Becuase you already send people to jail for petty offenses and have one of the highest incarceration rates in the first world and risk leading to more serious crimes why not role the dice you can’t afford anyway?