More People Are Consuming Music Illegally Than Ever Before

Illustration for article titled More People Are Consuming Music Illegally Than Ever Before
Photo: Scott Halleran (Getty Image Sports)

Here’s a surprising one for you: despite the popularity of legal music streaming (you know, services like Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube) more people than ever before are consuming music illegally. That’s right—piracy never went away, and it’s only growing.


According to MUSO’s annual Global Piracy Report (they’re a piracy tracking company), music piracy increased by 14.7% in 2017, with 73.9 billion visits to music piracy sites made worldwide. In other words, long after the days of Napster and Limewire, people really love to steal digital music. But unlike those services, they’re not downloading it—the report states that most illegal music consumption happens on illegal streaming sites, not through downloads or ripping audio through sites like SoundCloud or YouTube.

MUSO found that the United States is the global leader for music piracy, with 27.9 billion visits to illegal music sites. Russia follows with 20.6 billion; India clocks in around 17 billion; Brazil’s at about 12.7 billion and Turkey brings in 11.9 billion visits.


Andy Chatterly, the CEO and co-founder of MUSO, released a statement confirming that legal streaming doesn’t curb piracy:

“There is a belief that the rise in popularity of on-demand services such as Netflix and Spotify have solved piracy, but that theory simply doesn’t stack up...Our data suggests that piracy is more popular than ever.”


Legal music consumption (via streaming) has increased—paid streaming subscriptions rose 50 percent stateside just last year. But piracy is growing in popularity, too. Millions have Spotify on their phone, but millions are finding ways to dip into the illegal music market.

The question becomes—will piracy ever really end?

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