Which countries are the world’s most frequent bit-torrent downloaders? According to a report by music analytics company Musicmetric, top honours go to the United States, with the United Kingdom and Italy holding second and third place. Round of applause, please.
Musicmetric’s recently released Digital Music Index is a study of the digital music landscape globally, that considers legal services (like iTunes, 7Digital and Spotify) and music sites (like Last.fm and SoundCloud) as well as the unauthorised bit-torrent downloads that pirates everywhere know and love. The company also tracked 750 000 artists to produce the report which spans from 2011 to 2012 (the bit-torrent stats were from the first six months of this year).
The study suggests that more than 96-million music torrents were downloaded in the US in that time, with Drake’s The Motto being the most popular illegal download. Ed Sheeran’s album Plus was the most downloaded in the UK, while Laura Pausini’s Inedito took the top spot in Italy. More than 405-million music releases were torrented globally, and 78% of those were full albums — the most popular worldwide was Rihanna’s Talk that talk.
Despite all this piracy, the digital music revenues of record companies are actually growing: they grew by 8% worldwide in 2011 to an estimated US US$5.2-billion. Artists like Billy Van, who made a deal with BitTorrent to promote downloads of his music, are using torrents to actively share their music, and it seems to be working: his EP The Cardigan was the most downloaded music file in Brazil.
Other musicians have simply adapted to the current situation by focusing less on physical sales and more on live shows. The UK’s most-pirated artist Ed Sheeran said that he’s still selling albums and making a living from his music by touring extensively. Speaking to the BBC, Sheeran said he thinks he’s found a balance. “You can live off your sales and you can allow people to illegally download it and come to your gigs,” he said. “My gig tickets are £18 and my album is £8, so it’s all relative.”
Many artists are also using social media and audio sharing sites to increase awareness of their music. For example, promoting and sharing music on SoundCloud also seems to be a factor in artists’ online fan growth: the study found that emerging artists who had high playcounts on SoundCloud last year had more fans and followers across all networks this year.