Music piracy has declined in the last 5 years. But in 2021, it slowly began to grow again.

MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a series of articles in which we show why a single data point deserves attention from the global music industry. Stat Of the Week is backed by Cinq Music Group, a technology-driven record label, distribution and rights management company.


Music streaming has long been hailed as the killer of music piracy.

Although there is no doubt that streaming has transformed the fortunes of big companies and that subscriptions to music streaming platforms are growing (reportedly an increase of 26.4% to 523.9 million subscribers globally at the end of Q2 2021 according to Midia), then piracy still appeared. to make a comeback in 2021.

It shows new research published by the computer company MUSO, who works with e.g. labels, publishers and rights holders to protect their content against piracy,

MUSO’s data, retrieved from its Discover analytics platform, shows that music piracy consistently fell year-on-year from January 2017 to the second half of 2020 – bit began to increase gradually over 2021.

As you can see in the graph below, according to MUSO’s data, there was a 65% decrease in music-related pirate visits globally in 2021 compared to 2017.

MUSO notes that tthe music industry’s “decision not to encourage exclusive content on streaming platforms” has had a positive impact on music piracy over the past five years.

However, there was 2.18 per cent. increase in 2021 compared to 2020, and an 18.6% increase in the 4th quarter of 2021 compared to the 4th quarter of 2020.



So what is it that drives this growth in piracy in the music streaming age?

According to MUSO, the No. 1 online destination for pirating music is so-called ‘stream-ripping’ sites.

Streamripping sites, which allow users to rip and download audio from YouTube, accounted for 39.2% of all music piracy globally in 2021, up from 33.9% by 2020.

A number of prominent stream-ripping sites have been hit by lawsuits by the recorded music company in recent years.

For example, last month, a U.S. judge recommended that operators of two stream-ripping sites pay over $ 80 million in damages for circumventing YouTube’s anti-piracy and infringing copyright on audio recordings.

The case was brought by the RIAA and more than a dozen record companies, including Universal, Warner and Sony back in 2018.



Meanwhile, unlicensed streaming sites accounted for 31.5% of all piracy visits in 2021, while illegal downloads accounted for 24.3% (see above).

Private and public torrents accounted for the remaining 5%.

Looking at MUSO’s data globally, it shows that India is the most popular country for music piracy, with unlicensed streaming and web downloads the most popular forms of music piracy on the market.

Iran is the second most popular market for piracy, followed by the United States in third place, where stream-ripping with 63% of all activity was the most popular method of piracy there, according to MUSO.



MUSO says its 2021 data was retrieved by tracking over 182 billion visits to pirated websites for movies, TV, music, software and publishing.

The company adds that music piracy accounted for 8.15% of all piracy as it measured in 2021.

“The data shows that traffic to pirated sites increased in 2020 and 2021, mainly driven by the growing demand for stream-ripping sites.”

Andy Chatterley, Muso

Andy Chatterley, CEO of Muso, said: “Globally, digital piracy is high in all media industries. MUSO measured 182 billion visits to piracy sites in 2021, and we have seen significant increases in pirated traffic on TV, film and publishing in 2021.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen a steady decline in music piracy – which I think was driven by the decision to discourage exclusive content on streaming platforms. However, the data shows that this trend fell on a plateau in 2020, and in By 2021, traffic to pirated sites increased with music, mainly driven by the growing demand for stream-ripping sites.

Chatterley added: “Another worrying development is what MUSO refers to as ‘artist hijacking’, where an artist’s profile is hijacked on legal services and new music is released that pretends to be by the official artist but is actually completely unrelated and without exception extremely harmful to an existing brand, often by using do-it-yourself distributors to generate quick revenue from a global artist profile and streams.

“We see many instances of this kind of trademark infringement for global artists, and MUSO helps a lot of managers and labels monitor and protect against this type of activity.”


Cinq Music Group’s repertoire has won Grammy Awards, dozens of gold and platinum RIAA certifications, and several No. 1 rankings on a number of Billboard charts. Its repertoire includes heavyweights like Bad Bunny, Janet Jackson, Daddy Yankee, TI, Sean Kingston, Anuel and hundreds more.Music business worldwide

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