Beyonce's New Album Illegally Downloaded 240,000 Times

'Beyonce' has sold nearly one million legitimate copies over the same span

Beyonce performs in New York City.
Larry Busacca/PW/WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment
December 27, 2013 1:30 PM ET

In the first 10 days after its surprise release, Beyoncé's new album sold just a shade under a million copies. According to Musicmetric and Billboard, fans also illegally downloaded Beyoncé nearly a quarter of a million times over the same span. 

Beyonce and 49 More of the Best Rock-Star Instagram Accounts

According to Billboard, those pirated copies would have yielded another $3.8 million in sales at $15.99 per album – if each person who illegally downloaded a free copy chose to pay for it instead, that is. Entertainment executives are at odds over whether content shared online results in a net gain due to increased word-of-mouth and informed consumer decisions or a net loss due to unrealized sales. 

Beyonce's entire catalog was shared using the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol about two million times in 2013, according to Musicmetric, which analyzes such data. Her catalog spiked upon the release of the new album.

"The usefulness of BitTorrent data is that it allows record labels to have an incredibly detailed insight into where their artists are popular – right down to the town," Musicmetric Chief Executive Gregory Mead told Billboard. "Although the file-sharing numbers may be high, it will be possible to translate many of these into buyers." 

Whatever Beyoncé might think of fans who download her music without paying, she's clearly been in a giving mood. She recently made a surprise appearance at a Wal-Mart store to buy her own album and hand out hundreds of $50 gift cards to fellow shoppers. Also, a video of the superstar singing earlier this month with a terminally ill fan just surfaced online.  

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »