UK Home To Second Highest Level Of Music Piracy
September 17, 2012

UK Home To Second Highest Level Of Music Piracy

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

For all the advancements the Internet has given modern society, (better access to education, more efficient business practices, Songify, YouTube videos), online music piracy continues to strangle the recording industry.

Wanting to be a part of this brave new world, these artists are often the victims of theft not just once or twice a day, but thousands of times a day. In fact, for British singer songwriter Ed Sheeran, he´s been the victim of Internet thievery at least 1,800 times a day, according to a new study by Internet music monitoring company Musicmetric.

By contrast, Mr. Sheeran has sold 448,000 legal copies of his latest album so far this year, placing him just behind Adele and Lana Del Rey at the top of the charts in the UK.

According to this new research, which looked at which albums from which artists were being illegally downloaded from the Internet, the UK came in second place behind the US. Ed Sheeran´s (Plus) album was the most popular choice in all of Britain, with Manchester, Nottingham and Southampton listed as the most likely places in the UK for piracy to occur.

All in all, the Musicmetric study found Britons have already shared more than 40 million albums and singles with one another this year. In the United States, “The Motto” from Drake was the most frequently pirated file. The data gathered by Musicmetric– the largest of its kind– was gathered by monitoring global BitTorrent traffic, a popular peer-to-peer sharing service.

“Knowing exactly where your fans are has long been a holy grail for record labels. Understanding what drives them to engage will be vital to helping the industry to really prosper in the coming years,” said Musicmetric's CEO Gregory Mead, speaking with Musicweek.

"For the first time, we have evidence that blocking Pirate Bay had little effect on BitTorrent downloading. It is also clear however, that availability of streaming services like Spotify does reduce this activity as people have greater access to music they want via legitimate means.”

Music piracy was once limited to recording CDs, tapes and records to other tapes, which were then passed to friends and romantic interests. This sort of sharing got a much larger platform when sites like Napster and Kazaa took over the Internet, bringing in millions of music fans and pirates alike.

"Clearly the biggest problem with illegally downloaded music is that there is a generation who feel it is natural that music and all creative content is free,” said Andy Heath, director of British record company Beggars Group, speaking to the Telegraph.

In the study, Musicmetric found that at least 15% of the British population have downloaded something illegally this year, the majority of which are under 30 years old.

When piracy runs rampant at such a scale, it´s not just the headlining artists who suffer, says Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), speaking to Musicweek. “It´s on session musicians who play in the studio; it's on the engineers and tape ops in the studio; it's on the guys working in a PR company trying to get coverage; it's on the marketing department; the guys in legal who are doing the contracts.”

"We are losing hundreds of millions of pounds a year that should be getting invested into new music," he added.

While the UK was singled out in the report, the US still tops the charts with some 96 million “shares” so far this year. Italy, Canada and Brazil round out the list at 3,4 and 5.