Piracy is much, MUCH less of a collective music industry nightmare now than it was a decade ago, with the consensus being that streaming has replaced it for all but the keenest music pirates. We’ll avoid scaremongering with this news, but it’s worth thinking about: a new study by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) suggests that the number of people using illegal sources to get music may be creeping back up again.

Here’s the data: the percentage of people surveyed by the IPO who said they’d used an illegal source for music in the last three months fell from 24% in 2015 to 20% in 2016, and then 18% in 2017. However, in 2018 it grew slightly to 19%, and now the latest report suggests in 2019 it grew again to 20%.

Other industries have more to worry about – the percentage using illegal sources for films grew from 19% in 2018 to 27% in 2019, while the percentage for e-publishing vaulted from 11% to 35%. On the plus side, the percentage of people using only illegal sources for music fell from 11% in 2018 to 2% in 2019 – this is the real hardcore rump of pirates now.

The percentage of people using a mix of legal and illegal sources grew from 7% to 17%, which does suggest a migration of former piracy-only music listeners towards more legal climes. Other, wider-than-the-UK studies (like this one from the IFPI and this one from the EU) suggest that music piracy’s bigger trend is still a decline.

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Music Ally's Head of Insight

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