Yes, music piracy is still a problem in 2019

music piracy, music leaks, leaked music, digital piracy, music business, music biz, music industry

A decade after the streaming revolution promised change; music piracy continues to worsen.

Ten years ago, music executives began promoting the future of streaming as a solution to the industry’s problems. Access to legal streaming, they claimed, would lower the rate of piracy and increase the return artists saw from their creations. 

Any artist reading this now can tell you the latter-half of that promise has proven to be an outright lie. While the most popular artists in the world are seeing big returns for their music online, the vast majority of talent sees next to nothing. Worse yet, the sales of physical media have largely bottomed out, which has only further hurt smaller artists.

What you might not realize is that the first half of that promise was a lie as well. Piracy hasn’t gotten better over the last decade. In fact, it’s more popular than ever. The amount of digital media pirated in 2016 was double the amount pirated in 2008. That figure has grown larger still over the last two years, and it shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.

So, what can an artist or group do?

It’s time the industry accepts the fact that piracy will always exist. As long as people are expected to pay for music, there will be others who seek to access that same content for free. Before the internet made piracy accessible in a matter of clicks people were sneaking tape recorders into concerts and pressing the audio captured from the hidden devices to vinyl.

If we accept that piracy will happen as soon as an album is released, which it will, then the best anyone can hope to accomplish regarding keeping music under wraps until its street date is through secure promotional distribution. Haulix, and companies like it, work tirelessly to ensure that artists at every label can safely and discreetly share pre-release music with influencers without risking a leak. Here’s how it works:

An artist or group registers for Haulix. The first month of service is free, so artists should pick a subscription tier that offers ample storage and bandwidth, as well as watermarking services. Watermarks, for those who don’t know, as essentially digital fingerprints baked into audio files. They do not change the audio at all, but when leaks occur they can be extracted to discover the source of the leak, including the IP address where the file was initially accessed.

Once your account is activated, artists can upload their music and create a fully customized promo page. Here is a recent example, courtesy of the band Emarosa:

With the promo creation complete, artist can now upload their contacts and create groups to help organize who will receive their record and when.

Once the contacts have been added, it’s time to create custom email invitations. The artist’s contacts will use the unique access links found in these invitations to access the album promo. Each link is unique to each recipient.

You can try Haulix free for one month. To access this offer, visit the Haulix website and select a plan that fits your needs. Have questions? Email james@haulix.com for answers.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.