17/09/2012 05:02 BST | Updated 16/11/2012 05:12 GMT

Digital Music Index: Manchester Is UK's Illegal Downloads Capital

More than 43 million albums and singles were illegally downloaded in the first half of 2012, a major study of piracy in the UK has revealed.

Global analytics firm Musicmetric said that about 345 million songs were downloaded on BitTorrent.

The report, named the UK's first 'Digital Music Index', said that Manchester was the BitTorrenting capital of the UK per capital, followed by Nottingham and Southampton.

Ed Sheeran was the most popular pirated artist, while Rizzle Kicks' 'Stereo Typical' and Rihanna's 'Talk That Talk' were next in the top-three most pirated albums in the first half of the year.

READ MORE: Top 20 Piracy Towns

READ MORE: Top 20 Most-Downloaded Albums

Musicmetric said it had analysed large samples of BitTorrent data, but had not retained information about individual users.

Access to the most popular BitTorrent search engine The Pirate Bay was recently curtailed after a High Court order forced the top six ISPs to turn off access to the website.

However BitTorrents are still widely available online, because they are not hosted by one server but simply allow anonymous users to connect to each other to download data.

Gregory Mead, chief executive of Musicmetric, said:

"Knowing exactly where your fans are has long been a holy grail for record labels. Understanding what drives them to engage will be vital to helping the industry to really prosper in the coming years.

"For the first time, we have evidence that blocking Pirate Bay had little effect on BitTorrent downloading. It is also clear however, that availability of streaming services like Spotify does reduce this activity as people have greater access to music they want via legitimate means.

"The challenge for copyright holders is to find ways to monetise music files torrented online. The potential for converting revenue lost through file trading is not entirely a fairy tale, however it will differ with different genres and life stages of artist."

Highest Number Of Illegal Downloads By Location Arrange Per Capita

  1. Manchester (1,317,012)
  2. Nottingham (598,621
  3. Southampton (480,151
  4. Liverpool (927,535
  5. Sheffield (748,301)
  6. Leicester (487,406)
  7. Stoke-on-trent (380,872)
  8. Glasgow (1,037,934)
  9. Cardiff (348,603)
  10. Leeds (566,589)
  11. Bristol (424,790)
  12. Edinburgh (519,736)
  13. Wolverhampton (257,840)
  14. Derby (195,632)
  15. Reading (190,053)
  16. Bradford (233,339)
  17. Kingston upon Hull (256,479)
  18. Birmingham (803,741)
  19. Coventry (198,481)
  20. London (4,565,502)

Most Illegally Downloaded Artist

  1. Ed Sheeran - + (Plus)
  2. Rizzle Kicks - Stereo Typical
  3. Rihanna - Talk That Talk
  4. Jessie J - Who You Are
  5. Olly Murs - In Case You Didn't Know
  6. Emeli Sandé - Our Version of Events
  7. Ben Howard - Every Kingdom
  8. Chase & Status - No More Idols
  9. Chris Brown - F.A.M.E
  10. Gotye - Making Mirrors
  11. Noel Gallagher - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
  12. Drake - Take Care
  13. Adele - 21
  14. Kanye West - Watch The Throne
  15. Beyoncé - 4
  16. Snow Patrol - Fallen Empires
  17. The Script - Science & Faith
  18. James Morrison - The Awakening
  19. JLS - Jukebox
  20. Florence and The Machine - Ceremonials