It goes without saying that the advent of the Internet has revolutionized the way we consume music. With the wealth of the world’s music available anywhere at the click of a button, it is easier now than ever to listen to your favorite tunes and discover new music. However, despite the rise of music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, research suggests that music piracy is once again on the rise.
4 out of every 10 consumers access unlicensed music, and 35 percent of all internet users are stream ripping—an increase from 30 percent last year—according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). Stream rippers are also more likely to be young, as 53 percent of internet users ages 16-24 are stream ripping. Consumers are using services such as YouTube-to-MP3 converters and other stream ripping sites to pirate the music, and search engines are helping them to do so. Of the consumers who engage in music piracy, 54 percent of them also use Google to find unlicensed music.
On the bright side, legal means of music consumption are also still on the rise. 45 percent of music consumers globally are using licensed audio streaming services, up from 37 percent last year. Furthermore, young fans are remaining highly engaged with music despite other forms of media consumption, with 85% of 13-15 year-olds using streaming services.
Frances Moore, the CEO of IFPI, commented on how the report highlights some of the “amazing” trends defining this new era:
“The increasingly digital global music environment did not just happen,” he said. “It requires an enormous amount of work from record companies and their partners to license over 40 million tracks to hundreds of digital services around the world.”
Another issue that unfortunately still persists is the so-called “Value Gap,” in which user upload video services such as YouTube account for most of the on-demand streaming time but fail to fairly compensate value to the music community. 85% percent of YouTube visitors use the video streaming site for music each month, and 76% of YouTube visitors use it for music they already know. Moore writes that the global music community is “united in urging policy makers to act to address this.”