If you can read this and solemnly swear that you have never pirated music before, I have one and only one question for you:

Above: Gif of a man dancing (Source: Giphy)

The truth is that we have all pirated music before and half of the time we are not even aware that we are pirating. Music piracy is the copying and distributing of copies of a piece of music for which the composer, recording artist, or copyright-holding record company did not give consent. So if you have sent your significant other/s that song that tells him/her/them exactly how you are feeling or sent your best friend/s that song you want them to listen to, you arrrrr a pirate – a music pirate – a thief and a criminal.



Each country has different laws regarding piracy laws, but the laws need to be evaluated along with developing technology and this makes it an international problem as music is shared on the Internet. Music piracy is nothing new.

Even before the Internet became a source for the unlicensed sharing and downloading of music, borrowing a CD, copying the music onto a copy and then burning it on to an empty disk was the norm. Now music piracy has evolved along with technology and with it created more ways of pirating music.

Music piracy is the reason that the recording industry’s revenue has gone down. It may seem that most of the crimes happen after the CD has been released, but, in some cases, it happens way before the songs have even been cleared by the artist themselves. Pre-release piracy has become even more prevalent where people have found a way to hack artists and leak their music onto the Internet.



The do’s and dont’s of internet music piracy can seem confusing, but the Recording Industry Association of America  has made things clearer in what constitutes as the legal sharing of music over the Internet:

  • Downloading and streaming music from websites that have been authorized by the owners of the copyrighted music.
  • Check www.musicmatters.com for a list of authorized and safe sites where permission for the downloading and streaming of content has been granted.
  • Do not download unauthorized music from pirate sites (web or FTP) or P2P systems such as BitTorrent.
  • Do not upload unauthorized copies of music on P2P systems.

In a report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) the statistics prove how the use of the Internet to share music is not an ultimate trainsmash:

  • 46% of the recording industry’s global revenues came from digital revenues (of that 46%, 52% is from digital downloads)
  • In 4 of the world’s top 10 markets digital channels account for the majority of revenues
  • About 41 million people paid for music subscription services in 2014, 5 times more than in 2010


Above: Infographic of statistics found on the IFPI website.


The subscription model in these streaming services is more focused on making music accessible rather than emphasizing the ownership of their music evident in the increase in the shares of of subscription and ad-supported streaming services such as YouTube and Vevo which had gone up 27% from 2013 – 2014.

Streaming services allow consumers a chance to access music, whenever and whenever, legally and also without hurting the pockets of the music industry. The subscription model leads to consumers paying for music, paying artists and rights holders. The aim is to allow music lovers digital access to their favourite songs, but also ensuring that the respective owners also benefit from this unlike on unauthorized music websites.

However, the Internet is not the that much of a villian (Music Streaming: The Google of the Music Industry) because it makes it possible for people in the music industry to receive royalties on their work that is on the digital music sphere. With some believing that the Internet has harmed the music industry, there is proof that it has also had some perks.

According to Huffington Post, statistics prove that the highest consuming music pirates buy 30% more music than average consumers, making them the biggest spenders in the music industry even though most of them do not know they are doing so illegally.

It is obvious that Internet music consumers are not stingy with their money, in fact, they are willing to spend money on music. However, most of them are not aware that we are doing it illegally and initially hurting the music industry. Music streaming sites seem to be an answer to music piracy and if the Tidal subscription numbers after Lemonade’s release are anything to go by, they are the best answers.



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