Illegal Music Downloads Decline23 Mar, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel
The number of people illegally downloading music from file-sharing websites has fallen below 10%, according to The NPD Group.
The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research firm attributed the shuttering of peer-to-peer file-sharing service Limewire with illegal music downloads declining from 16% in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 9% in Q4 last year.
In addition, the average number of music files downloaded from P2P networks also declined from 35 tracks per person in 2007 to just 18 tracks in 2010, although some users downloaded just one or two tracks, while others took hundreds. NPD estimated there were 16 million P2P users downloading music in Q4 2010, which is 12 million fewer than during the same period in 2007.
NPD said Limewire was used by 56% of people illegally accessing music from P2P services in Q3 2010 but fell to 32% in Q4 2010, since the P2P service was only available through October in Q4. Other P2P sites’ traffic increased, however, led by Frostwire, which went from 10% usage in Q3 to 21% in Q4 2010; Bittorrent client u-Torrent increased from 8% to 12% in the same time period.
“Limewire was so popular for music file trading, and for so long, that its closure has had a powerful and immediate effect on the number of people downloading music files from peer-to-peer services and curtailed the amount being swapped,” said Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for NPD. “In the past, we’ve noted that hard-core peer-to-peer users would quickly move to other websites that offered illegal music file sharing. It will be interesting to see if services like Frostwire and Bittorrent take up the slack left by Limewire, or if peer-to-peer music downloaders instead move on to other modes of acquiring or listening to music.”