Monday Fresh: US Illegal Downloads Top 97 Million In 2012

US music fans download more illegal music than any country in the world, according to a sensational report this morning. But does it help musicians gain a fan base?

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US music fans download more illegal music than any country in the world, according to a sensational report this morning.

The Digital Music Index report by Musicmetric claims to be the most in-depth study of the global digital music landscape, and tracked 750,000 artists. It reveals that the US are followed by the UK, Italy and Canada as the most prolific illegal downloaders.

405 million music releases were downloaded in the first half of 2012, with 97 million coming from the US and 43 million from the UK. The majority of downloads are of full albums rather than single releases.

The most downloaded artist in the US in 2012 is Drake, while acoustic musician Ed Sheeran is the most downloaded in the UK. Kanye West tops Canada's piracy chart.

Ed Sheeran has responded to the report saying he doesn't mind the illegal downloads because it helps him sell tickets to his shows. "There's a decent balance between you can live off your sales and you can allow people to illegally download it and come to your gigs. My gig tickets are £18 and my album is £8, so it's all relative," he said.

However, chief of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) Geoff Taylor said the report proves that illegal downloads are still a significant problem. "It is having a significant effect on investment in new music. That remains our serious concern," he told the BBC (via Music Week). "We just need to get over to them the harm that they're doing to investment in new British music."

Do you think downloading helps artists gain a fan base, or is it doing irreversible damage to the music industry? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

100 comments sorted by best / new / date

    People are doing illegal things so that they CAN listen to Drake? Listening to Drake sounds like a punishment for committing a crime to me.
    British Phonographic Industry (BPI)... did anyone else read it as the British Pornographic Industry?
    Thank god for this comment and some problem with UG's system, otherwise I woulda posted a reallyyyy stupid comment a little while ago.
    Maybe people are downloading Drake so that he'll go bankrupt and stop making music? That's the only possible reason I can think of.
    link no1
    Could the same thing not be achieved by pretending he doesn't exist and not buying his album?
    Canada is a leader of something illegal?! Also, who cares what the British Phonographic Industry thinks, phonographs haven't been relevant in years.
    What's a Drake?
    I believe it's an old old wooden ship used in the civil war era
    I believe you're thinking of "diversity", which is spelled similarly to Drake, so I could see the confusion.
    its either a male duck or a type of dragon???
    Hmmmm i wonder why he named himself this...then again he mumbles like half the time, attempting to sing thinking that hes an rnb artist, and then the other half hes trying to act tough, having the likes of ppl like lil wayne back him up, gross.
    So the UK downloads roughly half of what the USA does with only a fifth of the population size.... Well done UK...
    Everyone calm down, it's just me. I'll do my best to slow down the full album downloading pace while I spend my hard earned dollars on concert tickets and band merch.
    I always wonder what evidence they have when they say illegal downloading hurts young bands when sites like bandcamp exist for them to market their music and merch as they see fit.
    Not sure if this will go through, but is anyone else having trouble posting? It keeps reading "Recapcha error" when I try to post.
    well no shit they do... america has such a big population... im not suprised... I live in the netherlands and we are pretty high on the list, but the thing is: it's not illigal here. (yet)
    If your pursuing a career in music for the money then perhaps you are pursuing it for the wrong reasons.
    Yeah! Because if you want to tour and share your music with lots of people, you should be rich to start with! WHY is it SO bad to want to be able to eat and pay bills if you want to pursue a music CAREER!?!?!?!
    The fame and fortune that comes with a career in the music industry is only a recent phenomenon and personally I would be happy to see it gone.
    So talented people have to lead the same shitty existance you do?
    Having millions of people relate too and enjoy your art would more than compensate for a swimming pool and a mansion.
    This is why I try to do my part and torrent good music so some heavy metal can be at the top of this list.
    Maybe because we have more money and more computers (iPads, iPhones, Androids included) than the rest of the world?
    Sadly I can't find any recent stats to fight your claim (though in 2004 it was certainly the other way 'round, there were no popular tablets then), but if you really think the US are that far ahead of the UK and other european countries in terms of computer-usage you are gravely mistaken. You might have (a bit) more money, but us europeans do love our gadgets. And well, the obvious answer is with the US having about 5 times the population of the UK clearly the UK have downloaded a lot more illegal music per capita.
    I think other countries just know how to get around being tracked, I'm not american but they've got to be one of the most big brother-y countries there are
    "US Illegal Downloads Top 97 Million in 2012" Eh...people just suck. "The most downloaded artist in the US in 2012 is Drake," I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
    I might consider buying MP3s if services like iTunes and Amazon offered the files in 320kbps.
    Not much point really... over-priced and you're limited with what you use it for. Just buy direct from labels, artists, bandcamp, or get physical CDs from Amazon... that way you can get flac/lossless and you can do whatever with it, and you can find many CDs under or around $10.
    wow, I'm proud of myself! I don't have a clue who Drake is, which means that FINALLY I've successfully removed all crappy music from my life...
    I only download music to see if i like the band before i buy the cd and when people say that a bunch of bull then people should see my cd collection & everyone need to buy cd because we need to support the art that our favorite band put out
    they should just encript digital songs and cds(actualor blank) so it cant get shared.
    I've stopped now that we have Spotify down under... it's the price of a CD a month for virtually unlimited music and it's quite good quality as far as lossy formats go. It doesn't have everything though, but youtube can help, and there is some music that's near impossible to get without searching for a download. That being said, I never stopped buying CDs and going to shows... If the music industry is still crying poor after the thousands of dollars I've spent on music this year, how many people have stopped buying completely? @ Chrisvasco23 about encrypting mp3s and CDs: There are workarounds anyway, and it just makes it harder for people who do the right thing. If I go out and purchase a CD, why should I pay twice if I want to rip it as a FLAC file to put on my PMP, phone or my squeezebox (My hi-fi uses a DAC, since it saves constantly swapping CDs). Given everyone has multiple media devices at home and multiple computers, why should we have to buy 5 copies of something we legally own just to listen to it on a different system or room? BTW, I've bought music through stores that encrypt, but I never will again. I got a nice surprise when my old computer crashed and the digital licenses were void and I couldn't re-download one.
    Theres no reason for poeple to download you can subcribe for stupidly little money to a service like Zune and listen for "almost free" Bands dont need record companies though....what are they playing it. I wonder how many awesome bands we are not hearing due to the lack of investment and taking a gamble on a new artist.
    I'd just like to point out that the correct subtitle for the article is "US music fans download more illegal music than any other country in the world."
    If they have these numbers, you would expect that they'd do something about it.
    Its okay everyone they messed up on it it was a typo, they ment to say LEAST DOWNLOADED artists
    Its sad, the odd time that I do download for free is when I can't find something on iTunes and hope that it releases on there after. I downloaded Dead By April's demos for songs and made double sure to buy their albums as soon as they were available in iTunes Canada store