The new trend in music piracy is identity theft

piracy, digital theft, identity theft, stolen identity, music piracy, stealing, anonymous

Digital thieves are pirating music by pretending to be everyone from musicians to industry professionals.

Music piracy is as old as the music business. In the nineteenth century, bootleggers would sell sheet music that had been duplicated without the composer’s consent. The dawn of recorded sound brought a new wave of pirates, as did the start of the digital age. 

Piracy, like the business itself, is always evolving. As soon as one method of thievery is dealt with it seems another appears. Companies such as Haulix work to limit the rate of piracy, often through watermarked materials and discreet music-sharing platforms, but even the best efforts have their limits. 

Recently, a new wave of music pirates have begun accessing music through impersonation. Pirates will contact a label, publicist, or manager under the guise of being someone from a band or someone connected to that band. Most go as far as to create fake emails that appear legitimate at first glance. For example, someone trying to gain access to a new album from The Beatles may claim to be Ringo Star and use the email ringo.starr@gmail.com. Similarly, the may claim to be management and use an email like bandnamemgmt@gmail.com. From there, pirates distribute well-written emails claiming they need a copy of the artist’s latest work for business purposes, such as promotion or booking, and ask to be sent a copy through proper channels. 

Whenever you receive emails from previously unknown emails, you need to verify the identity of the sender. Don’t let the fear of appearing not to know everyone connected to an artist or campaign prevent you from doing your due diligence. If you don’t recognize someone claiming to work with an artist you should ask the artist about that contact. If you speak with a person claiming to be part of a band you should ask their team if the information is correct. Nobody will be upset. Everyone would rather exchange a few extra calls or emails than risk losing money and attention due to an early leak.

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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.