Over the past year, the number of people using P2P services has declined nearly 17 percent, causing a 26 percent decrease in the amount of illegally acquired content over the previous year. In its annual music study released yesterday, the market research firm NPD found that peer-to-peer networks weren’t the only method of sharing music that took a hit.
- Music files burned and ripped from CDs owned by friends and family fell 44 percent.
- The number of files swapped from hard drives dropped 25 percent.
- The volume of music downloads from digital lockers decreased 28 percent.
Of the thousands of respondents to their survey, 40 percent of consumers aged 13 or older admitted that their torrenting usage was down from the year before, attributing streaming sites and their convenience of use as the primary reason for the decline.
Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD, had this to say:
“For the music industry, which has been battling digital piracy for over a decade, last year was a year of progress. In recent years, we’ve seen less P2P activity, because the music industry has successfully used litigation to shut down Limewire and other services; many of those who continued to use P2P services reported poor experiences, due to rampant spyware and viruses on illegal P2P sites.”
Though NPD doesn’t have data on how these services have performed in the past year for comparison, it’s clear that people are starting to turn against P2P for a number of reasons, not limited to the lack of safety and high potential for malware that comes with the territory. Sites like Pandora, Last.fm, and Rdio are giving users a way to turn on their favorite stations and not worry about what to download or what the newest albums might be. Programs like Spotify (and to some extent, Grooveshark) take that concept to the next level, allowing subscribers the option to stream any song they want on demand, from any mobile device they have for only a small fee per month.
Whether or not this model can remain sustainable and profitable for all parties involved has yet to be seen, but for now it’s clear that their ease of use in comparison to the older way of doing things is starting to become the deciding factor in how people listen to music online and off.