Songwriting & Music Publishing

Top 20 Countries With The Most Illegal Music Downloads

Sharing-is-CaringAs the piracy saga continues with the “six strikes
initiative coming soon to the United States and news that BMG is looking to
cash in on $20 settlements
with alleged file sharers, it’s worth taking a look
at just how big illegal file sharing really is these days. According to data
collected by the monitoring firm Musicmetric, it’s still pretty rampant,
especially in the United States – which has more total files shared than
anywhere else in the world
by a huge margin.

The United States comes in first with 96.8 million total shares, which is more than double that of the runner up (the United Kingdom at 43.3 million). The data collected by monitoring firm Musicmetric (and published by the BBC) delivers the total number of torrent downloads over the past six months and the most popular shared artist in each country. 

The Top 20 Countries With The Most Illegal Music Downloads

1. United States:
96,868,398 (most popular artist: Drake)

2. United Kingdom:
43,314,568 (most popular artist: Ed Sheeran)

3. Italy:
33,226,258 (most popular artist: Laura Pausini)

4. Canada: 23,953,053
(most popular artist: Kayne West)

5. Brazil: 19,677,596
(most popular artist: Billy Van*)

6. Australia: 19,103,047
(most popular artist: Hilltop Hoods)

7. Spain: 10,306,829
(most popular artist: Pablo Alboran)

8. India: 8,965,
271 (most popular artist: Billy Van*)

9. France: 8,400,869
(most popular artist: Sexion d’assaut)

10. Philippines: 8,351,260
(most popular artist: Maroon 5)

11. Mexico: 7,522,865
(most popular artist: Jesse y Joy)

12. Netherlands: 6,671,428
(most popular artist: Birdy)

13. Portugal: 5,587,198
(most popular artist: Pablo Alboran)

14. Poland: 5,029,204
(most popular artist: Gotye)

15. Greece: 4,919,567
(most popular artist: Billy Van*)

16. Hungary: 4,470,948
(most popular artist: Pitbull)

17. Chile: 4,210,641
(most popular artist: Los Bunkers)

18. Romania: 4,152,252
(most popular artist: Billy Van*)

19. Sweden: 4,074,594
(most popular artist: Laleh)

20. Belgium: 3,880,900
(most popular artist: Gotye)

*Unlike others on this list, Billy Van allows his music to be downloaded via torrents
and encourages donations from fans (see the case study here).

Hisham Dahud is a Senior Analyst for Additionally, he is the head of Business Development for Fame House and an independent musician. Follow him on Twitter: @HishamDahud

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  1. Shouldn’t we also look at the total number of internet users per country. The US has about 245M internet users. So that’s 0.4 downloads per user.

  2. Musicmetric monitored a very small portion of BitTorrent activity. Sandvine’s Internet Phenomena report in 2011 found that p2p was 18.8% of all US Internet traffic and 30% of all European and Asian traffic. According to Envisional, of the top 10,000 torrents, 35% were used to illegally upload and download movies (non-pornographic), 14% for television and 2.9% is used to do so with music. Cisco states that North America used an average of 9,947 Petabytes (1 million Gigabytes) a month in 2011, which would mean that 650 Petabytes were used by illegal music consumption in 2011. At an average of 5Mb per mp3 that is 130 billion mp3s illegally uploaded and downloaded on BitTorrent in the US in 2011. This number makes sense when you look at Pirate Bay’s top music torrents. They are largely discographies and compilations with hundreds of songs. With 85m broadband subscribers in the US, that is an average of 1500 songs per broadband household. ethicalfan dot com

  3. That’s not the point. Here is the list when you take the number of internet users in account:
    1 Philippines
    2 India
    3 Portugal
    4 Australia
    5 Greece
    6 Italy
    7 Canada
    8 United Kingdom
    9 Hungary
    10 Romania
    11 Sweden
    12 Belgium
    13 Netherlands
    14 Chile
    15 United States
    16 Spain
    17 Brazil
    18 Poland
    19 Mexico
    20 France

  4. Thanks for putting the numbers in proportional terms. I was thinking the same thing. *NOT* that I personally support heavy and unregulated torrenting of copyrighted media. I just think that the number of internet users in each country should be taken into account when citing a statistic like this.

  5. without china on the list, i see this as useless – their entire industry revolves around rampant piracy and therefore pushing corporate sponsorship for releases and merch instead of income from mech

  6. It is good perspective to have, but not enough, IMHO. It’s based on BitTorrent only, and as such is a measure of the popularity of BitTorrent in each country. The omission of Russia and Japan makes me think they didn’t monitor those countries’ most popular torrent sites. And I would consider piracy to be more of a problem in countries where income is higher and the availability and price of media lower. Unless the prices are really cheap, it can’t be as easy for people in financially struggling countries like India, Greece, Italy and the Philippines to blow money on entertainment in general, so of course they’re going to pirate more.
    However, I think the original list has merit; if 1% of pirates could be converted to sales across the board, the raw numbers are what the labels care about.

  7. maybe china’s numbers runs in the vicinity of trillions that’s why decided to exclude it in the list so as not to make the other countries look like a joke.

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