Bruno Mars and Rihanna most pirated artists of 2013

Singers both illegally downloaded more than five million times this year

Bruno Mars and Rihanna were 2013’s most-pirated artists, according to new analysis of peer-to-peer file sharing.

Using data from Bit Torrent, the most popular method of illegally pirating music, industry analysts Musicmetric showed both singers were downloaded more than five million times during the past 12 months, beating Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake, who were both illegally downloaded around four million times since January this year. Neither Bruno Mars or Rihanna released an album this year, however, with their respective albums ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’ and ‘Unapologetic’ both released during the final months of 2012.

The survey also said the 20 most-pirated artists were downloaded 64.5m times via BitTorrent throughout 2013. As reported earlier this week, Beyonce lost almost $4million worth of sales through pirating with more than 240,000 illegal downloads of her current self-titled album in the first 10 days of its release, putting her firmly in the Top 20 of Musicmetric’s survey. Despite this, she still managed to break iTunes sales records with her fifth album, although her back catalogue saw an increase in illegal downloads during the same period.

Other albums have been pirated faster than Beyonce’s, however. Last year Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’ was downloaded 270,000 times in its first 10 days, while Justin Timberlake’s ’20/20′, released in March, which was pirated 336,000 times.

Gregory Mead, the chief executive of Musicmetric’s owner Semetric, said that while legal sales are in decline, illegal downloads, coupled with numbers of social media fans and engagement, provide alternative methods of measuring an artist’s popularity.

He said: “Of course we don’t condone piracy, but what is clear is that Bit Torrent data offers a granular insight into a band’s fan engagement. You can see where people live and if you know where your fans are, you can plan a tour and engage with them. Back in the day, people went into record shops to try records before they bought them – nowadays, they download or stream a track and then perhaps buy a download or a gig ticket.”