Bruno Mars and Rihanna were the world’s most pirated music artists in 2013, according to a new analysis of peer-to-peer file sharing.
Both singers were downloaded more than 5m times over the course of the year, closely followed by Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake and Flo Rida.
Music metric analysed data from Bit Torrent – the popular method of illegally pirating music – to come up with the figures. It said the 20 most pirated artists were downloaded 64.5m times via BitTorrent over the year.
Notably, though Beyoncé was in the top 20 artists, and her latest album, Beyoncé, was the fastest-selling in iTunes history, other recent albums have been pirated faster.
240,000 Bit Torrent downloads of the album were registered in the first week, against 270,000 for Taylor Swift’s Red, released last year, and Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 (part one), released in March, which was pirated 336,000 times.
However, the figures did show an increase in Beyoncé’s older work on the release of the new album.
Music metric’s analysis of success on social media – measured in terms of new fans added on Twitter, Facebook and other sites – was somewhat different. Taylor Swift added 29.5m fans, while Katy Perry was second with 29.2m and Justin Timberlake third with 28.8m.
And the rankings for the most successful artist on video platforms Vevo and YouTube threw up a winner who did not appear on any other lists -although not an unsurprising one.
Psy, who shot to fame with the YouTube sensation Gangnam Style last year, topped the video charts with 2.2bn plays. Bruno Mars and Rihanna then followed, with 2bn and 1.6bn plays respectively.
Gregory Mead, the chief executive of Musicmetric’s owner Semetric, said that these alternative methods of measuring an artist’s popularity are becoming increasingly useful as physical sales decline.
“Of course we don’t condone piracy, but what is clear is that Bit Torrent data offers a granular insight into a band’s fan engagement. You can see where people live and if you know where your fans are, you can plan a tour and engage with them,” he said.
“Back in the day, people went into record shops to try records before they bought them – nowadays, they download or stream a track and then perhaps buy a download or a gig ticket.”