Illegal music downloading falls as streaming services dominate

Tim Maytom

Illegal music downloading has almost halved in the UK in the past five years, with the number of Britons obtaining music this way dropping from 18 per cent to 10 per cent.

The drop is largely attributed to the rise of streaming services, with almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of those that had stopped illegally downloading having switched to using streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon's Prime Music and others.

The Music Report from YouGov suggested that this number is expected to keep dropping, with 22 per cent of those who still illegally download saying they don't expect to be doing so in five years' time, and 36 per cent saying that using unverified sources to access music is becoming more difficult.

Among those that continue to download music illegally, exclusivity seems to be the main barrier to switching to streaming, with 51 per cent saying they find it frustrating when music is released exclusively through one platform. 44 per cent said they only download illegally when they couldn't access the music anywhere else.

"While illegal downloads still present a significant challenge to the music industry, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel," said a YouGove spokesperson. "Our research reveals a change in behaviour, with those that previously attained music by unlawful means now being enticed by the low costs and ease of use associated with streaming.

"Simply put, many don't feel they need to go to the same lengths to acquire the music they want, now they have it at their fingertips. Whether or not streaming is what finally banishes illegal downloads remains to be seen, but there are encouraging signs."