A new report suggests Spotify might be connected to a decrease in BitTorrent downloads, but some have their doubts.
A UK company has found that the presence of legal streaming services could be connected with a decrease in piracy.
Musicmetric, a London-based company that tracks online activity, found that the rate of illegal downloads was increasing fastest in countries that didn’t have access to legal streaming services like Spotify.
“This implies (although does not prove causation) that the proliferation of free access or low-cost streaming services is making a dent in piracy rates in those countries where those services are available,” said the Digital Music Index report released earlier this month.
The report shows that, out of the top 10 countries with the fastest growing use of Bittorrent, only one country (France) has Spotify. Conversely, five out of the 10 countries with the fastest declining use of BitTorrent have the streaming service.
To measure the data, the company tracked actual music file downloads, not just downloads of the Torrent file. The news is a boost for companies like Spotify, who come under fire from certain areas of the music industry for not paying musicians and labels ‘enough’ in royalties.
No doubt those making that argument are even less enamored with the idea of consumers downloading their music for free. Spotify executives frequently reply that its service is actually turning would-be downloaders into streamers and that the music industry is getting some royalties where it otherwise would get none.
Not everyone was so convinced of the positive trend between legal streaming services and a decline in torrenting, however. According to Billboard, digital media analyst Billy Pidgeon said:
“There’s been an overall decline in Torrent activity in recent months. When you look more closely at the reasons, there are usually more than one factor involved. Some of it has to do with the availability of legitimate streaming options. But there are many other factors in play.”
He is, of course, referring to the fact that several popular Torrent sites have either been shut down or closed over the past year or so. Megaupload was closed by US officials in January, while Demonoid, a BitTorrent tracker, closed after a series of DDOS attacks in the summer.
The US’s heavy-handed enforcement of anti-piracy laws has also been widely publicized, potentially leading torrent users to switch to safer streaming sources.
Musicmetric’s lists of countries with the fastest growing use and fastest declining use of BitTorrent are below, with countries that have Spotify marked *:
Top 10 Fastest Growing BitTorrent Market Share
Top 10 Fastest Shrinking BitTorrent Market Share