The best and biggest dance music stores (such as Beatport, Juno Download, and Traxsource) receive combined traffic of approximately 9.4 million visits per month, selling digital music downloads for £1 to £2 per track, and pay artists their royalties.
However, the same music you can purchase on these legitimate dance music stores, including the exclusives, are being sold on pay-for-access pirate sites! This content is often made available through a subscription, ranging from £8.50 to £41 per month.
An investigation carried out by AudioLock identified a substantial network of pay-for-access pirate sites, with a combined estimated traffic of 11 million visits per month (calculated using the same traffic estimation tools used for the legitimate stores).
It is impossible to be sure, but even if you assume that out of those 11 million visits to pay-for-access pirate sites, only 35,000 visitors (0.32%) decided to pay for a subscription (at an average of £15 per month), that is still over £500,000 lost per month.
Many of these pay-for-access pirate sites are very well made, including news articles and editor’s recommendations, and sometimes even clone the look of legitimate download sites. There is also evidence to suggest that many of those who are paying these websites for access to the music, do so without knowing that none of their money is going to the artists or labels.
Furthemore, some of these pay-for-access pirate sites weren’t viewable in the traffic estimation tools that were used (this is done intentionally by the sites which take the money, in order to avoid the unwanted attention). Therefore, it is highly likely that the total number of monthly visits to these pay-for-access pirate sites may be significantly more than we were able to calculate.
The wider music industry needs its revenue more than ever now. Let's make a stand.
The common belief by many content owners is that you can't beat piracy because it is impossible to win when the music is available for free on pirate sites. This myth has been one of the factors that have enabled the pirates to continue selling music on an industrial scale with very little interruption for so long, and their business is thriving because they have almost no costs.
As of March 2020, AudioLock have provided music anti-piracy services for 10 years and continue to come across these pay-for-access pirate sites. However, because the vast majority of the music found on these sites is outside of what AudioLock have been authorised to protect on behalf of copyright owners, AudioLock are restricted and unable to tackle them alone.
To tackle these sites, a wider amount of content that we are authorised to protect as an agent is required, and for the best result, the idea is that more than one company is involved. We have been frustrated for so long about our hands being tied, but collaboration from the music industry with companies signing up to register their support enables us to finally tackle this issue.
We are committed to using our time and resources for this project, but it is simply not possible to get the results needed without the support of the dance music industry. We need labels, music press, artists, DJs, distributors, review sites, service companies, and anyone into the music to register their support and provide just 15 minutes of their time to help fight the cause.
The original objective and plan was to launch The Music Mission just before Brighton Music Conference 2020, and through the partnership with Label Worx and other parties involved, raise awareness of the issue to start the discussion and to measure the effectiveness of the campaign in revenue, as well as positive brand value.
The effect across companies is measurable by using a large number of data points, which includes social interactions, Spotify and other such platform's playlists, radio play, and many charts. All of which when brought together will give insight as to what effect, and even what value, was gained from shutting these sites down.