While many thought that the rise of streaming had brought about an end to music piracy, a new report reveals this is far from the case. In fact, it appears the phenomenon known as stream-ripping has seen a significant spike in the past year.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
Despite reports claiming otherwise, a new study from a marketing research company reveals that the war on piracy far from over.
The music industry breathed a sigh of release last September after global piracy platform MUSO released a report claiming that piracy was on the decline. The streaming age, it seemed, had finally converted thieves into consumers.
This week, however, a new study published by marketing research company MusicWatchclaims otherwise.
In a blog post focused mainly on stream-ripping services, MusicWatch claimed to have tracked 17 million users downloading their music on websites from video platforms, including YouTube. That’s up from 15 million from the same period two years ago.
The top 30% of stream-rippers also downloaded an average of 112 music files, the equivalent of 10 full music albums, over the course of the year.
The company wrote:
“That may not seem a lot in a world where streaming services hold millions of songs, but ask any rights holder how they feel about someone copying their works. For a more vivid picture, imagine someone shoplifting 11 albums from Walmart or Best Buy!”MusicWatch Blog, 2019
The question of why the spike occurred remains unanswered, but MusicWatch points the blame at search platforms such as Google for not taking the matter seriously. The company believes it is easy for anyone to find a stream-ripping service in a matter of clicks, and that files ripped from sites such as YouTube are seen as a replacement to mainstream music streaming services such as Spotify.
A quick search by the Haulix team proved their theory to be true:
Additionally, the study from MusicWatch revealed that stream-rippers are also more likely to participate in other forms of unsanctioned music sharing. These include downloading songs from unlicensed music apps and sharing songs on digital lockers or file-sharing sites.
They’re also more likely to go to the movies, play video games, and subscribe to video streaming platforms, like Hulu and Netflix. That, says the marketing research company, amplifies the risk of piracy in each category. If they’ll steal music they don’t own, why wouldn’t they do the same for films, tv, or video games?
Of the people surveyed by MusicWatch, 68% of stream-rippers in the U.S. are aged between 13 and 34. A slightly higher number of males pirate when compared to women, 56% to 44%. The average household income of stream-rippers is between $75,000 and $199,000. Only 34% are full or part-time students, which strongly suggests that professionals are also downloading music for free.
As for solutions to these problems, MusicWatch concludes their study by reiterating the need to fight back against stream-ripping platforms.
“If [stream-rippers] pirate music, they’ll likely also take movies, TV shows, and other forms of intellectual property. Discouraging stream-ripping isn’t just good for music; it’s good for the entire entertainment ecosystem.”
There have been several lawsuits filed against stream-ripping websites in recent years, while other stream-ripping platforms have received cease and desist letters. Until action is taken to block or otherwise remove stream-ripping sites as a whole, the entertainment industry will have to wage war against the services on a site-by-site basis.
James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.