Music Piracy on the decline thanks to Spotify and Apple Music

A study taken to look into digital copyrights has found that music piracy in the UK has dropped thanks to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.

It would be ridiculous to say that piracy isn’t an issue anymore but it’s certainly taking a dive. It was the talk of the web just a few years ago and now it doesn’t even seem to audibly concern those it’s hurting –  not as much anyway.

A recent study by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) takes a look at online users and how they consume digital content. The study found that 59% of internet users in the UK aged over 12 had consumed at least one piece of content online, lawfully or illegally, in the 3 months the study was taken over.

Of the 59% who had consumed online content, 57% had paid for at least a bit of it. The study found that 39% of those downloaded the content whilst 52% streamed it, showing a favorability for streaming. When it came to pirating content the study found that 15% of the UK internet users aged 12+ had consumed at least one piece of content illegally between March and May. 5% revealed they got their content exclusively via illegal means.

That adds up to about  6.7 million people in the UK who have pirated something recently but is a drop from the last study in 2013, that showed 17%. Whilst a 2% drop may not seem much it is compared to the amount of people that includes, and regardless shows that piracy is losing popularity rather than gaining it.

Music Piracy streaming rates download internet illegal users
Streaming seems to rise as piracy drops in countries around the world, like Norway

Music piracy has dropped from 96 million tracks accessed illegally to 78 million tracks from the same period last year. It may just be coincidence but that coincides with a rise from 16% to 19% of British people using Spotify in the last year.

It suggests that cost-effective options to owning the super-library of music that people only dreamed of until recently is helping persuade people to pay, or at least use legal methods, rather than outright pirate their music. Who would’ve thought it?


As a personal account from a Brit and someone who loves music – I used to pirate a lot of my music when I was young. I simply couldn’t afford it and when I could it was never enough money for the mass of albums I wanted. Since I’ve been streaming music legally (and even videos with YouTube and Netflix) I have barely even touched pirate sites. That’s my own testament, but what do you think – do legal streaming options dissuade you from piracy? Let us know down in the comments.

Head of Social Media and Marketing, RouteNote

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