As we near the end of another year, the music industry has a few reasons to be optimistic. Digital music sales are expected to reach record highs this year, and legal streaming services continue to gain in popularity. But unauthorized music file sharing is still going strong.
This fall a firm called Musicmetric published what’s being called one of the most comprehensive studies of unauthorized music downloads. In the first half of 2012 Americans downloaded nearly 760 million songs using the software known as BitTorrent, which is the technology most often used for unauthorized file sharing. And most of those downloads happened in cities and towns near universities, says study co-author Marie-Alicia Chang.
The study also found what might be seen as a little hope for the ailing music industry. Over the six-month period, there was a slight drop in unauthorized downloads in the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, Sweden, Norway and a few other countries where there are alternatives — free legal streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. Rich Bengloff is the president of the American Association of Independent Music; Musicmetric is a member of Bengloff’s organization. He says providing alternatives is a no-brainer.
“Making music available the way consumers want their music made available,” he says. “In other words, serving them as opposed to saying, ‘Here’s the way you can get it,’ and pricing it at a level that is attractive enough to them that they don’t want to pirate the music.”
Continue reading the rest of the story on NPR