The U.S. music piracy rankings: Gainesville (FL), New York, Los Angeles top the list

By on October 3, 2012, 5:00 PM

In spite of the growing number of well-promoted music subscription services available on the U.S. market like Spotify, Rdio, Amazon, iTunes Match, among others, music piracy remains a fact of life for many.

Research firm Musicmetric reports that 97 million BitTorrent music files were downloaded across the United States in the first half of 2012, of which 78 percent corresponded to full album downloads. Because albums are only counted as one, with an average album containing 7-10 songs each, that means over 700 million songs have been downloaded via torrents so far this year. The U.S. accounts for about 16 percent of global music piracy via torrents, according to the study.

On a per capita basis, Gainesville, Florida ranks #1 on the country for most pirated music. Home to the University of Florida, alma matter of this editor, Gainesville is home to close to 50,000 students and 260,000 people in its metropolitan area. Cities completing the per-capita top 5 include Albany (GA), Fairbanks, Alaska, Lexington (Ken), and Tallahassee (FL).

Rihanna’s ‘Talk that Talk’ was the most downloaded release globally with 1.2m, followed by Billy Van’s ‘The Cardigan’ EP with 1m, Adele’s ‘21’ album with 990,000, Gotye’s ‘Making Mirrors’ album with 904,000 and Drake’s ‘Take Care’ mixtape which notched up 860,000 downloads.

In absolute terms, New York topped the chart with 7 million music downloads in this period, followed by Los Angeles (6.2 million), Chicago (3.2 million), Atlanta (2.6 million), and Philadelphia (2.5 million).

Coincidentally enough, Gainesville also happens to be where music streaming service Grooveshark was founded. Grooveshark employs over 100 people on its Florida headquarters, and has been subject to lawsuits by all the major music companies over alleged copyright infringement.

Other key findings of the report included the fact that lower volumes of torrent downloads relative to GDP occurred where Spotify and iTunes exist around the world. SoundCloud is becoming the ‘new MySpace’: artists that had the most plays on SoundCloud a year ago have the most fans across all social media networks today.

Musicmetric claims to have tracked each download, and not the number of shares or downloads of the torrent itself. They were able to track files and geographic locations of the downloaders but didn’t look at personal identifiable data.

Top 15 countries for total BitTorrent music downloads (H1/2012), ranked by total volume (source)

  Country Total downloads Approx songs Country population
1 United States 96,681,133 775,382,687 313,232,044
2 United Kingdom 43,263,582 346,973,928 62,698,362
3 Italy 33,158,943 265,934,723 61,016,804
4 Canada 23,959,924 192,158,590 34,030,586
5 Brazil 19,724,522 158,190,666 194,037,075
6 Australia 19,232,252 154,242,661 21,766,711
7 Spain 10,303,633 82,635,137 46,754,784
8 India 8,964,360 71,894,167 1,189,172,906
9 France 8,398,550 67,356,371 65,102,719
10 Philippines 8,380,208 67,209,268 101,833,938
11 Mexico 7,522,056 60,326,889 115,017,631
12 Netherlands 6,671,624 53,506,424 16,847,007
13 Portugal 5,607,910 44,975,438 10,760,305
14 Poland 5,052,277 40,519,262 38,441,588
15 Greece 4,933,478 39,566,494 10,760,136



User Comments: 20

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Guest said:

Australia has the highest population to download ratio. Beat Canada again!

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Of course the US is at the top >_>

Wonder what's going on in china...

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Goodness, I haven't downloaded any songs this year. I better get with the rest of the country and catch up. But, Rihanna? Really? I guess 2012 really is the end of the world and the Zombies started their take over. (Or at least mindless sheep.)

Steve Shannon Steve Shannon said:

Does this mean Gainesville, FL ranks #1 in the world for most pirated music?

Timonius Timonius said:

Not to sound na´ve, but are some of these downloads actually legitimately released for free by artists who value building their fan base?

Guest said:

Music should be free, concerts should be paid for.

Movies should be cheaper and release faster. this long wait from cinema to video is one of the HUGE fuckups and reasons for piracy.

Games... keep it cheap and provide adequate demos.

its not hard...

avoidz avoidz said:

"The iTunes Store's revenues in the first quarter of 2011 alone totalled nearly US$1.4 billion; by October 4, 2011, the store had sold 16 billion songs.

As of September 2012, the iTunes Store possesses 400 million active user accounts."

Maybe try talking to Apple about their profits? Greed is never satisfied.

rvnwlfdroid said:

Goodness, I haven't downloaded any songs this year. I better get with the rest of the country and catch up. But, Rihanna? Really? I guess 2012 really is the end of the world and the Zombies started their take over. (Or at least mindless sheep.)

We already knew that, just look at the iSheep sales

avoidz avoidz said:

Even if it wasn't online sharing, it'd be offline. Just like the old days of mix tapes.

Camikazi said:

Of course the US is at the top >_>

Wonder what's going on in china...

USA is on top mostly cause of the high population, on the download to population ratio it is lower than I expected it to be. Countries in 2, 3, 4 and 6th places are way up there though. I'm not sure what to think of India, either they are very respectful and don't pirate much or most of the country has not internet access cause their ratio is extremely low.

Guest said:

India has a positively miniscule piracy rate considering they have about 3x the population of the US, yet only about 1/11th the downloads.

Tygerstrike said:

Maybe India has a higher moral backbone then most of the world.

pieceofSchmitt pieceofSchmitt said:

USA is #1 USA, USA!

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Since the beginning of the year I've allegedly downloaded over 1800 songs or about 200 albums, a fair contribution for Canada. My theory is load up while you can, it won't be around for much longer. Except the Sneakernet will always prevail, at which point portable hard drives will be able to contain multiple Terabytes of data ripe for the sharing. "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway." Tanenbaum, Andrew S. (1996). At least until they lock down the audio files in such a way that you can't reproduce them, and even that would surely be cracked within a matter of days.

Camikazi said:

Since the beginning of the year I've allegedly downloaded over 1800 songs or about 200 albums, a fair contribution for Canada. My theory is load up while you can, it won't be around for much longer. Except the Sneakernet will always prevail, at which point portable hard drives will be able to contain multiple Terabytes of data ripe for the sharing. "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway." Tanenbaum, Andrew S. (1996). At least until they lock down the audio files in such a way that you can't reproduce them, and even that would surely be cracked within a matter of days.

If the audio can be played back at all it can be recorded and made free

Guest said:

"Rihanna's 'Talk that Talk' was the most downloaded release globally with 1.2m"

This is so awful...I don't get it. There is literally unlimited music out there to pick from and people pick Rihanna to pirate the most? I always thought that it was just the radio stations who pumped up and advertised that crap, but people actually seek this horrible music out. It totally confirms to me that people can have the whole world of music out there, but will still settle for garbage.

Camikazi said:

"Rihanna?s ?Talk that Talk? was the most downloaded release globally with 1.2m"

This is so awful...I don't get it. There is literally unlimited music out there to pick from and people pick Rihanna to pirate the most? I always thought that it was just the radio stations who pumped up and advertised that crap, but people actually seek this horrible music out. It totally confirms to me that people can have the whole world of music out there, but will still settle for garbage.

They pirate Rhianna BECAUSE TV and radio advertise their music so much and TV and radio advertise them so much because people look for them, it's a vicious circle really.

Zoltan Head said:

"Rihanna's 'Talk that Talk' was the most downloaded release globally with 1.2m"

This is so awful...I don't get it. There is literally unlimited music out there to pick from and people pick Rihanna to pirate the most? I always thought that it was just the radio stations who pumped up and advertised that crap, but people actually seek this horrible music out. It totally confirms to me that people can have the whole world of music out there, but will still settle for garbage.

Perhaps it's because the sort of imbecile that thinks Rihanna is where it's at is also the sort of imbecile that thinks piracy is a neat idea?

lipe123 said:

Maybe India has a higher moral backbone then most of the world.

"Maybe" only 5% of people in India has internet thats faster than dialup.

How many of the people that "pirated" those songs also went and bought it afterwards/before?

Also Rihanna's CRAP music more or less promotes piracy, cause who the hell wants to pay for that?!

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