Music Industry Group Says Piracy Problems Linger in Streaming Era

While music listeners are still using legal audio streaming software at an ever-higher rate, an IFPI report suggests that issues with unlicensed and underlicensed platforms like YouTube remain—particularly when it comes to "stream ripping."

The music industry may be driving a lot of excitement these days, but the challenges of the digital era are still hard to ignore.

A new report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the music industry’s global trade group, highlights the “value gap” that the music industry faces. The 2017 Music Consumer Insight Report [PDF], conducted by Ipsos Connect, finds that while licensed streaming services remain popular (with 45 percent of users relying on such services, up from 37 percent in 2016), many consumers are grabbing their tunes from YouTube, a service IFPI argues doesn’t fairly compensate the music industry. In a comparison highlighted in the report, the organization says that YouTube generates less than $1 per user annually for the music industry, while Spotify generates $20 per user per year on average.

IFPI argues the problem is widespread—85 percent of YouTube viewers rely on the video host to stream music, with 76 percent using the service to listen to music that they’re already familiar with.

And even more concerning, says the group, is that 40 percent of consumers access unlicensed music in one form or another. In particular, IFPI called out “stream ripping,” or extracting audio files from another source. The report says that 35 percent of online users rely on the technique, which is even more popular among those ages 16 to 24.

IFPI and other record industry groups, notably, have been fighting providers that allow stream ripping, and this month scored a victory against when the site agreed to shut down.

Of course, tried-and-true methods for piracy remain common—the report noted that more than half of users who download unlicensed music use Google to find it.

“Copyright infringement is still growing and evolving, with stream ripping the dominant method,” IFPI CEO Frances Moore said in the report. “The industry is taking action against these sites and fighting for the rights of those creating music. With the wealth of licensed music available to fans, these types of illegal sites have no justifiable place in the music world.”

(karandaev/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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