Findings from MusicWatch’s Annual Music Study show there were 17 million stream-rippers in the U.S. last year. That number is up 2 million from the 15 million stream-rippers reported in 2017.
Stream ripping is a type of music piracy where users transform a file from a streaming site like YouTube or Spotify into a downloadable copy.
While streaming services like Spotify offer a free tier, piracy enables users to access songs offline. An estimated 46% of stream-rippers pirate music for that reason, while 37% simply want to own songs they don’t like enough to buy, according to the market research firm’s report.
“Streaming, and easy, efficient access to music was supposed to have solved many of the issues around unsanctioned sharing and piracy,” it said. “Unfortunately a segment of music fans continue to acquire music in unsanctioned forms. Legacy forms of piracy through P2P file sharing applications has faded, but the use of websites and apps that facilitate the downloading of music licensed only for streaming is thriving.”
As of January, popular stream-ripping apps include YouTube Downloader, Free YouTube to Mp3 Converter, and Mp3 Video Converter. A significant number of users find stream-ripping services through app stores or search engines. Half of stream-rippers use YouTube.