Online streaming music services such as Pandora, YouTube and Groove Shark are slowly chipping away at piracy, according to reports from the U.K. Though it's unlikely these free streaming sites will obliterate the drive to swap music via peer-to-peer networks, this news should come as heartening to music executives long plagued by those pesky iPod-wearing teens.
Music Ally teamed with sister consumer research company The Leading Question and determined that a third of music-loving teenagers in the U.K. have switched tastes from illegal downloads to legitimate streaming sites. Fans are also purchasing songs on iTunes and other online music retailers rather than nabbing them from file-sharing sites. In January 2009, 26 percent of 14- to 18-year-olds shared files compared to 42 percent in December 2007. This is a dramatic dropoff, but one that should be taken with a grain of salt.
Some media reports call this phenomenon a "collapse" of piracy and claiming that streaming "kills" piracy. But let's get real: if it's free, savvy kids will sooner pinch it than financially support an industry that often comes across as greedy and vindictive. It's also worth mentioning that the survey polled only 1000 people and was conducted overseas -- this breed of data may not apply to the United States.
However, with examples such as Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the "music mom" slapped with a $1.92 million fine for downloading tunes, and Pirate Bay's dissolve from free torrents to legitimacy, it's likely the U.S. will catch the drift and inch away from shadier methods of music sharing. Still, illegal file-sharing still exists, and while some execs may pop a cork over this news, we must collectively realize it's not going away.