illeagal downloads
(Lauren Hurley/PA)
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Well this is a surprise. The number of illegal music downloads is falling. Who would have guessed this?

Only one in 10 currently download music illegally, down from 18% five years ago, and the number is expected to continue to decrease further, according to YouGov’s Music Report.

More than a third (36%) say using unverified sources to access music on their smartphones is becoming more difficult. 22% of those that currently illegally download music do not expect to still be doing so in five years.

yougov illeagal music downloads survey

Why illegal music downloads are decreasing

YouGov found 63% of those that have stopped illegally downloading music are now using streaming services.

One survey respondent said it was “now easier to stream music than to pirate it. And the cost is not prohibitive”, while another said: “Spotify has everything from new releases to old songs, it filled the vacuum.”

YouGov associate director Justin Marshall said: “(Illegal music 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.”

YouGov surveyed 4,009 UK adults between March 6-13.

So the lesson here is if you make something more accessible and price it right people won’t feel the need to obtain it illegally. Not rocket science is it? what else could we apply this to I wonder?

* Prices correct at time of posting.


  1. I will never rely on streaming only for my music or video collection. People don’t seem to value the idea of keeping something forever any more and its sad, so much will be lost to license expiration and services going offline where you even lose your PURCHASED content.

    Thing is though, buying DRM free music legally is SO easy now. Even if I can obtain the same track by other means, I will buy it to know I’m getting the best quality version.

    Now if only they would do the same with DRM free video there would be far less motivation to pirate at all! But with studios cutting back on Bluray releases of TV shows (the only form of DRM I can live with), I can see video piracy actually increasing. Its really dumb.

  2. As Gabe Newell said in relation to Steam, “We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.”

    Spotify and Youtube offers people a service wherein they can access a large library of music and therefore aren’t relient on file sharing to get new or obscure albums.


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