Despite the rise of streaming, young people continue to download music illegally

Bad habits die hard. And the proof is in music piracy. While there has been a fall in illegal downloads of songs and albums in recent years, it seems that young Europeans are still listening to music illegally. So what’s going on?

For a long time, it was believed that Spotify and other music streaming services had succeeded in convincing the most reluctant music fans that it was in their interest to pay to listen to their favorite songs.

It seems that this message might not have been heeded by Europeans under the age of 24. They still resort to piracy to listen to the latest tracks by their favorite artists, according to a recent report by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). 

To reach this conclusion, the organization interviewed more than 22,000 young people aged 15 to 24. They come from the 27 countries belonging to the European Union, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Romania.

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One-third of those surveyed have used, listened to (streaming or otherwise) or downloaded audiovisual content illegally in the last 12 months.

This fraudulent practice is particularly widespread in Malta, where 43% of respondents reported intentionally using illegal sources. It is also common in Belgium, France and Estonia (29%). However, piracy of audiovisual content is drastically down in Lithuania and Portugal since 2019. 

The influence of influencers?

From movies and television shows to e-books and sports content, the entire audiovisual sector is affected by piracy. While many internet users consume both legal and illegal content, most Europeans surveyed by EUIPO listen to music legally.

Only 15% of respondents listen “exclusively or mainly” to illegally sourced songs and albums. This trend is particularly marked in Bulgaria (27%), Romania (24%) and Greece (21%).

So why do so many young Europeans still resort to music piracy when streaming platforms offer millions of songs in their catalogs? It is above all a question of price.

The majority of respondents (55%) say that they use fraudulent sites to consume audiovisual content in order to save money. This argument is mostly cited by young people living in Eastern European countries, including Estonia, Slovakia, Croatia and the Czech Republic.

Nearly 30% of those surveyed by EUIPO also say that difficulty in finding a specific item is the reason they turn to fraudulent sites.

Another notable fact is that influencers also play a (minor) role in the rise of piracy. Some 8% of respondents say they have done so on the recommendation of a celebrity… Proof that not all advice on the internet is worth following.

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