Music Piracy Remains a Widespread Problem, Particularly in Emerging Countries * TorrentFreak

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) presents itself as the voice of the global recording industry.

The group represents approximately 8,000 members worldwide, from smaller independent labels to the largest labels on the planet.

Part of his mandate is to monitor how the music industry evolves. This includes legal consumption and unauthorized offering, more commonly known as music piracy.

Music piracy exists in various forms, but in recent years music piracy has become the most important. Several years ago, the IFPI reported that the phenomenon had become a greatest threat than any other form of music piracy.

According to IFPI's Engaging with Music 2023 report released this week, online piracy remains a problem around the world, particularly illegal music apps and stream ripping.

"Music piracy remains a big problem, with copying of streams and the use of illegal mobile apps among the main causes of concern," says IFPI chief executive Frances Moore.

“This illegal activity has a severe and direct impact on the royalties that should return to those who invest and create music. “We will continue to work with governments and the wider music industry to ensure the safest possible digital environment for music creators and fans alike.”

One in three are music pirates

The report shares the results of an extensive survey involving more than 43,000 Internet users around the world. The general conclusion is that legal consumption is flourishing, but the survey also found that many people still use hacking tools and stream rippers.

In it countries which formed the basis for these reports historically, almost one in ten people (29%) admit to having used illegal means to listen to or download music. At 26%, streaming remains dominant, closely followed by unlicensed apps (20%).

ifpi statistics

Piracy is most prevalent among the younger demographic (16-24), where 43% of respondents are self-confessed pirates. When asked about their reasons for pirating, more than half of respondents (55%) said they do it to avoid paying for licensed streaming music subscriptions.

Piracy rates have stabilized somewhat over the years, but the problem remains. That said, it's not the whole picture. The countries surveyed for these "global" statistics exclude India, China, Nigeria and other emerging countries where piracy is rampant.

Piracy is rampant in developing countries

IFPI reports figures for these countries separately, allowing global data to be compared over time. However, if they were included, global piracy rates would be much higher.

In India, for example, 74% of respondents admit to using illegal methods to listen to music. In other emerging countries such as China (75%), Indonesia (66%) and Nigeria (76%), we see similarly high piracy rates.

ifpi india

This is a completely different picture from the Western, mostly developed countries that have been part of IFPI's long-term survey sample. A full description of the countries surveyed in the global data set is available below.

Finally, it is worth highlighting a somewhat unusual statistic. Although piracy is widespread in countries like China and India, legal consumption is also very high in these countries.

In China, 96% of respondents say they use licensed audio streaming platforms and in India, 94% do the same. This is much higher than the global average of 73% and suggests that music consumers in emerging countries use a combination of legal and illegal sources to satisfy their musical demands.

TorrentFreak asked IFPI to explain this combined use of legal and illegal music streaming, focusing on India. IFPI Director of Insight & Analysis David Price points out that legal music consumption is largely dependent on free tiers.

“India has a range of domestic and international audio streaming services, and most interaction with them is done through the free tier. Adoption of premium streaming is hampered by the continued use of piracy services,” says Price.

Ultimately, the report provides a valuable snapshot of how the use of various hacking tools and services changes over time. It will be interesting to see how these trends develop in the future.


This article was updated with a commentary from Dr David Price, Director of Insights and Analysis at IFPI, which arrived shortly after publication.

– The global sample includes respondents from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

– Details on consumers from China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates are reported separately.

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