Fewer Britons are illegally downloading music as streaming ‘fills vacuum’

Surveyed people said it was easier to stream music than pirate it

The number of Britons illegally downloading music has fallen, a new study has found.

Conducted by YouGov, the report revealed that streaming has steadied the number of people pirating music as more affordable options for consuming music have become available in recent years.

One in ten Britons said they download music illegally – an 18 percent drop from five years ago. That number should become even lower, too, as 22 percent of people who said they illegally download music said they don’t expect to still be doing it in another five years time.


Using unverified sources such as file sharing sites and torrents to illegally download music is becoming more difficult, according to 36 percent of those who pirate music in Britain. Surveyed participants added that the rise of streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music had helped them stop illegally downloading music by making it easier than pirating, offering fair pricing and “fill[ing] the vacuum” with new releases and old songs.

People who said they still accessed music illegally also explained why they continued to do so. Over half of the group (51 percent) said it was frustrating when music is released exclusively on one platform, like Beyoncé and Jay-Z releasing their joint album ‘Everything Is Love’ only on Tidal at first. Meanwhile, 44 percent of responders said they only illegally downloaded music when they couldn’t find it anywhere else.

In a press release, YouGov’s Associate Director Justin Marshall said: “While illegal downloads still present a significant challenge to the music industry, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Our research reveals a change in behaviour, with those that previously attained music by unlawful means now being 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.”

Earlier this year, the Global Piracy Report found that, despite streaming accessibility, music piracy had grown in 2017 and was “more popular than ever.”

In 2016, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hit out at music piracy, promising to “democratise the internet”. “Downloading music for free sounds fine,” Corbyn said. “But this means musicians do not get paid. That is why digital rights are so important.”