The world of music beats to its unique rhythm and creates its own trends. Post the decades-long love affair with music cassettes and CDs, music lovers are engaging with artists on social networks and listening to music on various online platforms. The digital landscape has seen the growth of legal download services like iTunes and Spotify and music sites like Last.fm and SoundCloud alongwith the disturbing rise of the unauthorised Bit-torrent downloads.
The inaugural Digital Music Index, produced by Musicmetric, has analysed the world of illegal downloads and come up with a one-of-its-kind report on social media trends, music consumption patterns, the impact of releases, gigs and TV appearances on an artist's profile and trends on the global BitTorrent network.
The report revealed that the United States topped all nations in unauthorised music downloads during the first six months of 2012, followed by the United Kingdom (43.3 million), Italy (33.2 million), Canada (24 million) and Brazil (19.7 million). India came in at number eight with 8.9 million downloads.
BitTorrent contains both legal and illegal files, but most of the music downloads identified in the study are not legally available on the network. The report presented a gloomy picture of the piracy scene with Musicmetric CEO Gregory Mead claiming that even crippling Pirate Bay, one of the largest illegal download sites, hasn't had much effect on the illegal downloading scene.
On the positive side, it was found that demand for legal tunes has seen a rise. The report revealed that, "The Cardigan EP by Billy Van is the No.1 torrent being downloaded in 5 of the top 20 countries by downloads.This is noteworthy because "The Cardigan" has the rare distinction of being licensed for distribution via the BitTorrent network. It has become hugely popular in place of other illegal content in a quarter of the top 20 countries for downloads.
SoundCloud emerged as a powerful platform to distribute music and a network where bands and fans interact. It was found that, "Emerging artists that had a lot of fans today across all networks were found to have had high numbers of plays on SoundCloud last year. This indicates that artists who grow their plays on SoundCloud today are more likely to grow their fans across other social networks in the future."
The DMI index also determined where web users prefer to play their music and quite expectedly YouTube emerged as the clear winner in most genres. Though, Vevo generated more plays in Country, Dance, and Pop genres.
The report suggests that "for more popular artists a strikingly higher impact is created when releasing singles than albums. This appears to reflect the current consumer trend in popular music towards what has been described as a "singles" market." In cases of full-length albums, Rihanna's latest album - Talk That Talk - was found to be the world's most pirated release, with around 1,228,313 downloads from January to July 2012.
The aim of this report is to "allow the music industry to better understand its customers, resulting in the opportunity to capitalise on this engagement and ultimately generate increased sales, new revenue opportunities and more efficient marketing campaigns."
Top five downloaded artists: