Pirating The Beatles: Some 100 Million Fab Four Tracks Illegally Downloaded A Year

imageAmid the speculation today about whether The Beatles’ digital remastering is a prelude, finally, to online retail, here are a couple of sobering data points worth considering … Long story short: the Fab Four are already losing huge amounts to illegal downloading.

Of the people who currently use P2P networks, 23 percent download one or more Beatles tracks, P2P monitor BigChampagne told paidContent.org. Since 62 million people worldwide use P2P, the firm estimates, that’s 14.26 million people already getting their Fab Four for free, an average 6.9 tracks per user – from cheap, relatively low-quality MP3 files, nevermind the high-quality new mixes. That’s among the highest proportion BigChampagne has recorded for an act, CEO Eric Garland told us, though a smash single from an artist like 50 Cent can prove more popular.

Garland: “Of course, no one has been tracking file sharing long enough to say how many Beatles tracks have ever been downloaded absolutely, but the band continues to be as popular as ever and the annual total is in the many tens of millions, perhaps 100 million.”

To put that in context, U2’s recently leaked No Line On The Horizon album was downloaded 445,000 times in two weeks, earlier BigChampagne data showed. In other words, assuming that level of freeloading tails of over the year, Beatles tracks, even today, may be more popular than one of the biggest rock acts on the planet. You can only imagine how much The Beatles would have made had they managed to legitimise their online repertoire earlier…