Music is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? The way it can soothe your soul, calm your nerves, and even transport you to faraway places.
But what happens when music isn’t treated right? That pure power that it holds—how does it feel when that’s compromised? We’ve got some statistics we wanted to share with you today about the state of music piracy in the world.
The music industry is alive and well—it’s just found new ways to make money. Whether it’s digital streaming, live shows, or in-person merch sales, musicians have adapted to the world where they can’t rely on the money they used to make from album sales.
But it’s still a tough road for most musicians, who are still struggling to make ends meet.
To get you up to speed on how musicians are adapting in this new age of streaming, we’ve put together a list of music piracy statistics that tell us about the state of the industry and where it’s going next. Enjoy!
Music Piracy Statistics (Editor’s Picks)
- 95% of the music on the Internet is downloaded illegally.
- Rap is the music genre with the highest number of illegal downloads.
- 87% of the visits to music piracy websites come from mobile devices.
- 38% of Gen Zers access music through copyright infringement and 34% do so through stream-ripping.
- 58% of Americans agree that it’s easy to recognize whether a website that offers unlicensed music.
- The European Union loses about €170 million of revenue annually due to music piracy.
- 15% of consumers in Finland have used illegal services to download or listen to music.
- 70% of Mexican consumers download or listen to music on pirate sites.
- 41.6% of South Korean consumers pirate music.
- Spain loses €527 million in profit due to online music piracy.
General Music Piracy Statistics
1. 95% of the music on the Internet is downloaded illegally.
A 2009 report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry or IFPI found that 95% of music is downloaded illegally over the Internet.
That’s a shocking amount! I don’t know about you, but I was pretty shocked to find out that 95% of the music on the Internet is downloaded illegally.
I mean, it’s pretty hard for me to wrap my head around what that actually means. Ninety-five percent of the music that people get online isn’t legally purchased? It’s really just totally stolen? The whole thing blows my mind.
After all, the artists who create the music we listen to are trying to make a living. They’re out there putting their blood and sweat into every song they compose and record—and we should be thankful for it! I know I am. And if we love them, then why wouldn’t we want to support them with our money?
The bottom line is that if you’re not paying for your music, then you’re stealing from the artists who made it happen. Don’t be a thief! Buy your music from legal sources.
2. Rap is the music genre with the highest number of illegal downloads.
If you’re wondering what music genre has the highest number of illegal downloads, the answer any music lover would want to hear—and might not expect—is rap! Rap has been downloaded illegally more than any other genre by far, followed by R&B.
After all, rap is a genre that attracts a younger audience, and a lot of younger people are stereotyped as being technologically savvy. So when you think about it, it makes sense.
3. The number of visits to music piracy websites worldwide reached 3.89 billion in Q3 2021.
The above figure is 2021’s peak when observing available data, considering the number of visits to music piracy websites stood at 3.47 billion in Q2 2021, and 3.5 billion in Q1 2021. However, this is a substantially smaller figure than 2020’s peak observed in Q1, when it stood at 4.5 billion.
4. With 30.5 billion visits, streaming websites are the most popular type of music piracy websites.
Download websites follow with 21.2 billion visits, while stream-ripping websites and public or private torrent websites round the list with 15.7 billion and 6.5 billion visits, respectively.
5. 87% of the visits to music piracy websites come from mobile devices.
If you thought computers reigned supreme when it came to downloading pirated music, think again. According to a recent study, mobile devices are the primary way people seek out and access pirated music.
In fact, 87.13 percent of visits to websites offering pirated music come from mobile devices (that’s over 7 out of 8 visits!), compared to just 12.87 percent from desktops. It’s probably because mobile devices are so accessible.
While it makes sense that more people are using their phones to access these sites, since they’re always with us, the amount of mobile use is still pretty astounding.
6. 38% of Gen Zers access music through copyright infringement and 34% do so through stream-ripping.
Gen Z has grown up in an era where digital resources are plentiful and easily accessible, so it stands to reason that they have become acclimated to using the Internet to listen to music. To what extent?
We did some research, and found that 38% of Gen Zers access music through copyright infringement—that is, listening to music illegally. And another 34% use the means of stream-ripping to download music. But what is stream-ripping? It’s a way of downloading MP3s (mostly) legally.
Nevertheless, there’s hope for the future! Thanks to technology like the new streaming services from Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, and Apple Music, Gen Zers can utilize legal means of accessing their favorite tunes.
7. At 38%, copyright infringement is the most common way to consume pirate music.
Stream ripping follows used by 32% of pirate music consumers, while the list is rounded with cyberlockers/P2P and search engines at 23% and 17%, respectively.
8. At 32%, the price is the most prominent reason why consumers resort to downloading music from illegal sources.
At 18% and 16%, respectively, ease of use and quality of sound round the list of the top three reasons for downloading music from illegal sources worldwide. Lack of availability through legal channels follows at 10%, while ease of adding music to their collection and an illegal source being the first website they found share the fifth place, as agreed by 7% of consumers each.
As agreed by 4% and 1% of consumers, respectively, speed/reliability and the unlikeliness of being caught round the list of most prominent reasons for downloading music from illegal sources.
9. Music piracy can cost the US economy as much as $12.5 billion in revenue.
That’s $422 million in taxes the federal, state, or local governments can’t collect. This figure includes an estimated $291 million in personal income taxes and a further $191 million in corporate income and production taxes.
10. Around 71,000 people in the US can lose their jobs due to music piracy.
The music industry workers in the United States can lose $2.7 billion each year—$1.1 billion of that to workers in the sound recording industry and $1.6 billion of it to US workers in other enterprises.
11. With 7.46 million illegal downloads, Ed Sheeran is the most pirated music artist.
Luis Fonsi ranks second with 6.29 million, followed by Ricky Martin and Charlie Puth with 4.29 million and 4.07 million illegal downloads, respectively.
The list of the top most-pirated music artists is as follows:
|Music Artist||Number of Illegal Downloads|
12. 58% of Americans agree that it’s easy to recognize a website offering unlicensed music.
Oh, how our American friends love their music! We’re so glad that you do.
And of course, we are too. After all, it’s not every day that you get to talk to a group of Americans who agree with you on something. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results!
But what we are most proud of is that we found that 58% of Americans think it’s “easy” to recognize unlicensed music-streaming services vs 42% stated they didn’t think it was easy.
13. With over 1 million downloads, Radio Player MP3 is the most popular stream-ripping app worldwide.
Music Downloader & Player Music ranks second with nearly 590,000 downloads, followed by Free Music Download, Music Player, MP3 Downloader, and Free YouTube to MP3 Converter, with over 426,000 and 400,000 app downloads, respectively.
With over 50,000 downloads worldwide, Spotify Downloader ranks fourth, followed by Download Mp3 Music. Free Music Player & Downloader with over 24,000.
The list of popular stream-ripping apps worldwide continues with Free Tube Music, Music Downloader, Offline MP3 and Mp3tube ★ Convert video to mp3, with over 5,500 and 5,000 downloads, respectively.
At over 3,000 downloads each, Spotify to Mp3 and MP3 Youtube Downloader round the list of the top 10 most popular stream-ripping apps worldwide.
14. 50% of stream-ripping websites don’t have a revenue stream.
A further 44% are monetized by placing ads, while 6% rely on donations to make money. On the other hand, stream-ripping apps seem to have defined revenue streams, with 70% of them hosting in-app ads and 30% charging for upgrades.
15. 34% of stream-ripping websites place scam advertising.
While 52% rely on standard advertising, a further 14% advertise malware/PUP. These figures further prove that music piracy websites don’t hesitate to dip into even more unethical digital areas.
16. Accounting for 70%, the majority of stream-ripping services abuse YouTube as a source channel.
A further 26% abuse multiple services, while 4% focus on Spotify only. These figures prove that music piracy websites are catching up with the emerging popularity of various content sources among users.
17. Out of stream-ripping websites that abuse multiple sources, all of them offer YouTube.
70% abuse SoundCloud, while Deezer ranks third, being a music source abused by 30% of stream-ripping websites. Amazon Music and Vimeo follow at 20% each, while iTunes, Tidal, and Last.fm round the list, at 10% each.
Music Piracy Around the World
18. India has the most visits to music piracy websites in the world (377.79 million).
The latest data reveals that Iran is the runner-up with 376.1 million visits to music piracy websites. The USA and the Russian Federation follow, with 309.2 million and 227.19 million, respectively.
Below the 200-million mark, there are Ukraine, Turkey, Brazil, and Indonesia, with a respective number of visits to music piracy websites at 151.47 million, 128.08 million, 114.92 million, and 105.61 million.
The list is rounded with France and Egypt, with 87.28 million and 58.28 million visits to music piracy websites, respectively.
The UK ranks second with 43.31 million illegal music shares, while Italy and Canada follow with 33.22 million and 23.95 million respectively.
The list of the top 20 countries with the highest number of illegal music shares is as follows:
|Country||Number of Illegal Music Shares|
20. The European Union loses about €170 million of revenue annually due to music piracy.
Have you ever downloaded music illegally? If so, then you’re part of a problem that costs the European Union recording industry €170 million annually.
That’s not chump change. That’s a lot of money! Music piracy is a big problem, but we’re here to help you understand why it’s such a big deal. When you pirate music, it hurts the artist, record label executives, and other music industry professionals. It also makes it harder for them to find funding and support for their projects, which means less music for you!
21. 60% of UK adults admit they have illegally downloaded music.
When it comes to the reasons why, 35.2% of them agreed on the cost efficiency of illegal downloading. Further 34.9% pointed to music’s unavailability on their subscription channel of choice, while another 34.7% stated it’s the music’s unavailability in the location where they live that makes them download music illegally.
On the other hand, 83% of UK adults who have illegally downloaded music say they have tried to source the content by legal methods first. A further 53% reveal they’re aware that what they’re doing is wrong.
22. Cyberlocker hosts are the most popular websites containing music piracy in the UK.
Accounting for 17 of the top 50 websites providing music piracy in the UK, cyberlocker hosts are followed by BitTorrent and proxy/other websites, accounting for 15 and 13 of the top 50 websites offering music piracy in the same region, respectively.
Stream-ripping services and cyberlocker link websites round the list, having respective three and two websites among the top 50 ones hosting music piracy.
23. Stream-ripping services are the most popular type of music-centric piracy websites in the UK.
Totaling 22 among the top 50 music-exclusive piracy websites, stream-ripping services are closely followed by cyberlocker link and BitTorrent websites, accounting for 20 and six of the top 50 piracy websites focusing on music, respectively.
At one each, the list is rounded by cyberlocker host and proxy/other websites.
24. At 69%, the largest portion of traffic to stream-ripping download websites in the UK is direct traffic.
The above figure indicates that these websites are popular to the point of them becoming brands of some sort, considering users just type in their website addresses to access them.
Another quarter of traffic to stream-ripping websites in the UK comes from search, further confirming their popularity among users, while 6% comes from social media, meaning some stream-ripping websites aren’t even afraid of advertising their services.
25. Accounting for up to 40% of keywords that stream-ripping websites in the UK rank for in organic search results, “youtube to mp3” is the most commonly searched query to reach websites of the sort.
At over 25%, “youtube converter” ranks second, followed by “youtube to mp4” and “mp3 converter” driving about 20% and 5% of traffic to stream-ripping websites, respectively. The list is rounded by “youtube mp3”, a query that brings an average of 3% of traffic.
It’s important to note that these figures refer to averages across the top 10 stream-ripping websites in the UK, not all of which generate traffic through the same search queries.
26. Profit losses due to digital music piracy reached €511 million in Spain.
The digital music piracy industry in the country is estimated at €223 million, while its physical counterpart stands at a substantially lower €73 million.
Profit losses due to physical music piracy in Spain stand at €16 million, pointing to a potential decline in physical music piracy trends.
27. The music production industry lost 5,950 jobs due to online piracy in Spain.
This figure is estimated to increase by a further 1,650. The music distribution industry in Spain lost 1,930 jobs due to online piracy, estimated to increase by 1,155.
28. 62% of Hungarians know online sources where they can legally download music.
Among the rest, 36% don’t know where they can legally access music, while another 2% aren’t whether the sources they know are legal or not.
29. 55% of Finnish consumers using illegal services for downloading/listening to music say the reason they do so is that it’s cheap/free.
At 40%, access to more content ranks as the second reason, followed by convenience as agreed by 27% of consumers who use illegal file-sharing services to download/listen to music. Better sound quality comes in last at 4%.
30. 23% of the internet population in the Netherlands opts for stream-ripping as an illegal music consumption channel.
Downloads from illegal sources follow at 18%, while the third place is shared between streaming on dedicated devices and streaming from illegal sources, at 11% each.
Music Piracy and COVID-19
31. Illegal streaming activity fell by 19.72% in Japan in March 2020.
At 11.84%, Europe followed as a region noting a decrease in illegal streaming activity as soon as pandemic lockdowns were introduced worldwide. The UK came third with a decrease of 5.84%, while the corresponding figure in the USA stood at a mere 1.01%.
32. New data shows that music piracy spiked during the pandemic.
While a lot of things have changed since the COVID-19 hit, one thing has stayed the same: people are still illegally downloading music like crazy.
Music-related visits to torrent websites grew by 26.40% in Spain between the end of February and March 2020.
Statistics by region reveal that India ranked second with a 23.43% increase in music-related torrent website visits.
The UK, Canada, and the US followed, at 18.53%, 17.54%, and 15.62%, respectively, while growth in music-related visits to torrent websites across the EU stood at 7.61%.
On the other hand, the number of music-related torrent website visits dropped by 6.09% in Germany in the same period.
It was clearly a hard time for everyone, and it may have felt like listening to “cheap” music was better than paying full price.
But let’s be real: pirating music is still wrong. And while it can be easy to forget sometimes, artists make their living by selling their work. That means you’re hurting them in more ways than one when you pirate their music.
So there you have it! A huge list of music piracy statistics that we hope you find useful. It’s a topic that’s been in the news for decades, and one that likely will continue to be for years to come.
If you read through all of those, then congratulations! You have officially spent hours poring over the details of music piracy statistics, and are now a) probably well-versed in how to interpret these stats, and b) are ready for some sleep. We’re kidding about the last part—but hopefully, we’ve given you enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not music piracy is something you want to do.
But remember: whether or not you choose to pirate music, it’s important to be aware of how much it affects the economy and the way that musicians are paid for their work. If you want to support your favorite artists, look into buying their music instead of pirating it—and make sure that if you do decide to pirate music, you’re doing so ethically and safely.
That’s it for this blog post. Thanks for reading!