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Manchester and Nottingham top UK file-sharing chart

By | Published on Monday 17 September 2012


More than twice as many albums are downloaded illegally in the UK as are bought via legitimate digital services like iTunes, according to a new report from online music analytics firm Musicmetric. Which is quite a bit less than I would have expected, but there you go.

The report reckons that over 33 million albums were downloaded from unlicensed sources via BitTorrent file-sharing in the first six months of the year, during which time 14.8 million digital albums were sold.

Amongst Musicmetric’s stats, are that Ed Sheeran is the most illegally downloaded artist of the year so far, though in the Isle Of Wight Louis Armstrong was downloaded more, while Justin Bieber led in the Oxfordshire village of Kidlington and The Smiths were top in the Scottish Border town of Galashiels.

The geographical stats – assuming they accurately show where file-sharers are specifically based – are probably the most interesting amongst those amassed by Musicmetric. The London area accounted for the highest amount of illegal downloads overall, unsurprisingly given the size of its population, though when the figures are averaged out per head Manchester and Nottingham have the most prolific file-sharers amongst their number.

The BBC notes that in Wales, excluding Cardiff, file-sharing is less prolific, and wonders if this is linked to lower internet speeds in much of the country. In Llanelli, Musicmetric records an average of 1581 illegal downloads per month, whereas Yeovil in Somerset, with a similar population but faster internet connections, the monthly average is 4239.

Quite what all this tells us about the state of file-sharing in the UK – as the Napster generation reach their mid-to-late-20s – is debatable, given that digital content is routinely shared without licence in ways other than BitTorrent file-sharing, though on the other hand the music industry at large has many revenue streams other than iTunes.

Though labels chiefs will no doubt say all this shows file-sharing is still a major problem hindering investment in new talent, and that the government should get its arse into gear and kick start three-strikes.