Friday, December 28, 2007

Songs, Movies & TV Shows: Most Stolen this year (via P2P Download / file-sharing)

Wired Magazine reports:

If you want a true snapshot of what people are watching and whom they're listening to online, look no further than the file-sharing underground.

With Hollywood sweating over piracy and record labels crying over losses, activity on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks has emerged as the most reliable barometer for determining what's hot and what's not among the most tech-savvy media consumers.

To find the most-traded files in the world of P2P, Wired News turned to BigChampagne Online Media Measurement, a Los Angeles-based firm which tracks media-consumption trends across all digital channels -- legal and otherwise.

For this study, we asked BigChampagne to concentrate solely on P2P traffic. The firm then compiled a set of top 10 lists using data from all the major file-trading protocols and networks -- BitTorrent, Gnutella and eDonkey included. Private BitTorrent trackers and invite-only trading communities were excluded from the study, as were private LAN-based sharing networks. But what remains, we feel, is an accurate picture of what the file-trading world at large got excited about over the past 12 months.

Each list shows data from the beginning of the year up to Dec. 10, 2007.

Here are 2007's superstars of P2P:

Top Songs of 2007
1. Shop Boyz, "Party Like A Rock Star"2. Akon, "I Wanna Luv U"
3. Sean Kingston, "Beautiful Girls"
4. Mims, "This Is Why I'm Hot"
5. Akon, "Don't Matter"
6. T-Pain, "Bartender"
7. Soulja Boy, "Crank Dat Soulja Boy"
8. Justin Timberlake, "My Love"
9. DJ Unk, "Walk It Out"
10. Jim Jones, "We Fly High"

All of 2007's biggest names in cross-over pop and hip-hop are represented on the list of most-traded songs. But there's almost no correlation to sales of full-length CDs.

The Shop Boyz and Mims both had hugely successful breakout singles in 2007, seven of which were widely pirated. But sales of their respective albums disappointed by failing to go gold. Sean Kingston, whose song "Beautiful Girls" ranked No. 3, hasn't even released an album yet. The only top-fiver with a successful long-player is Akon, whose Konvicted CD is certified triple-platinum.

BigChampagne co-founder and CEO Eric Garland sees this as a reflection of the sea of change currently afoot in the music business. In days past, an artist's success was determined largely by album sales. The world of digital downloads, however, is centered solely on singles.

"If Soulja Boy and Shop Boyz would have sold as many CDs as they did singles, they'd be household names," says Garland. "They'd be superstars on par with 50 Cent and Kanye West."

Further evidence is the fact that the biggest ring tones of 2007 dominate our most-traded list. According to recent data from AT&T, Shop Boyz' "Party Like a Rockstar," Mims' "This Is Why I'm Hot," Akon's "Don't Matter" and Soulja Boy's "Crank Dat Soulja Boy" were some of the best-selling ring tones among Telco's wireless customers.

Top Movies of 2007
1. Resident Evil: Extinction2. Pirates of The Caribbean: At World's End
3. I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
4. Ratatouille
5. Superbad
6. Beowulf
7. Transformers
8. American Gangster
9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
10. Stardust

It's no surprise that a film based on a videogame franchise and starring fetching actress Milla Jovovich did well among the P2P crowd, which is made up largely of younger males. What is surprising is that 2007's top-two box-office draws in the United States -- Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the Third, respectively -- didn't even crack the top 10. Also, 2007's No. 3 movie in the United States, Transformers, only placed in the No. 7 slot.

BigChampagne's Garland points to the fact that while Hollywood films and content produced in the West dominate the lists, the file-sharing community is truly global.

The myth that higher-quality DVD rips of movies are in higher demand than "cams" -- copies captured by camcorder-toting pirates in theaters -- is also dispelled by the list of top trades.

Beowulf, for example, is No. 6 on the list despite having been released in theaters only in November. The No. 5 movie, Superbad, had only been available on DVD for a week when this list was compiled, meaning most of the traded copies were likely cams.

"You get two release windows intermingling at once," says Garland, "the most popular movies in theaters and the most popular new releases on DVD. They're all competing equally online."

Garland also points out that the art of taping a movie from the audience has come a long way of late.

"Cams can be remarkably good and perfectly watchable," he says. "It's nothing like the days of buying VHS copies off the sidewalk in Manhattan."

Top TV Shows of 2007
1. "Heroes"2. "Prison Break"
3. "Top Gear"
4. "Smallville"
5. "Desperate Housewives"
6. "House, M.D."
7. "Lost"
8. "Grey's Anatomy"
9. "24"
10. "Dexter"

NBC's sci-fi drama "Heroes" was a runaway hit on prime-time television in 2007, and the story was the same online. The show was a smash on P2P networks -- almost twice as popular as runner-up "Prison Break."

"Top Gear," the BBC's weekly show about cars, is a surprise hit -- but the average P2P trader likely drools over cars online and off, and responds positively to the show's irreverent, danger-loving hosts.

Most of the shows on the list are produced by major networks and broadcast over the air. But filling the No. 10 slot is "Dexter," a moody drama about a serial killer produced for Showtime. The show is only available on pay TV, giving it the added allure of scarcity and feeding its popularity among P2P traders.

The possibility that some of these highly traded shows were originally purchased at an online store as DRM-locked files has little effect on their popularity, says Garland.

"Copy protection doesn't make any difference," he says. "Once one copy is unlocked and made available in the public domain, it's a short order."

Top Music Artists of 2007
1. T.I.2. T-Pain
3. Akon
4. 50 Cent
5. R. Kelly
6. Lil Wayne
7. Justin Timberlake
8. Fergie
9. Ludacris
10. Snoop Dogg

For the list of top artists, BigChampagne tracked P2P downloads of both singles and full albums. The names here are better known -- 50 Cent, R. Kelly and Snoop Dogg, for instance -- but the list is still primarily made up of singles artists.

Garland says his firm tracks downloads of full CDs, but you'll never see them at the top of the charts.

"Songs are the new currency online," he says. "The volume of downloads for individual songs dwarfs the downloading of albums."

Indeed, anyone following the online music business this year would expect to see Radiohead on the list of most-traded artists. The British rock band generated a huge amount of buzz with the early October release of its album In Rainbows, which it sold as a pay-what-you-like digital download. Even though around one third of the album's downloaders grabbed it for free off of BitTorrent rather than pay a cent, the activity wasn't enough to make a much of a dent in the world of P2P.

"The only area where the Radiohead was possibly the story of the year was complete album downloads," Garland says. "They aren't a singles band. Consequently, Radiohead has never done the kind of volume that these big video-driven stars du jour command."

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