Streaming was supposed to kill off music piracy. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

The first decade of the 21st century was awful for the music industry. Caught flat-footed by the power of the internet, the industry had no plan to combat music piracy other than to try to sue things back to where they were 20 years earlier.

Then came an unlikely savior in the form of music streaming, the idea of listening to songs on-demand and “renting” tracks for offline listening. The industry resisted at first but now are all-in. Somewhere around 60% of the revenues seen by virtually every label comes from streaming.

Music piracy is way down. But it’s still with us in a big, big way. This is from The Music Network.

“Last month, a 19-year-old was arrested in Ipswich after a joint effort between the City Of London Police, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The investigation spanned two continents, many months, and involved intel provided by two international organisations. A search warrant was procured, houses in North London and Ipswich were targeted, and the arrest was made.

“The crime? Music piracy.

“When was the last time you heard of someone pirating music? It seems like a relic of the past, doesn’t it? A friend hands you a CD-R with the new Wilco album on it, or maybe a hard drive with the whole Wilco catalogue. Maybe Wilco’s music wasn’t even involved at all. Maybe you just taped some songs off the radio.

“Music piracy in one form or another has been around for generations. In the ‘60s, publishers were worried about unauthorised reproduction of lyrics cutting into the sales of sheet music. In the ‘70s, it was concert bootleggers, such as those who trailed the Grateful Dead bus and recorded shows on gear so cumbersome you needed ancient Egyptians to haul it.’

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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