ABOUT AUTHOR: Ms. Rabia Bari, Associate, Charts & Anti Piracy, Indian Music Industry (IMI)


Nudge theory is not a panacea to the problem of digital music piracy but can be an additional remedy to combat digital piracy in the Indian recorded music industry.

This blog is based on IMI findings and attempts to discuss the digital civics* approach to addressing digital music piracy through the application of behavioural science, particularly ‘nudging’ the consumer through web page message pop-ups on infringing websites or interactive social media applications. So, what is the nudge theory, aka the Nudge effect? It is a theory that theory deliberates how seemingly small steps by way of nudges to consumers lead to dramatic changes in their behaviour. Different ways to encourage behaviour or decision through indirect suggestions can play a beneficial role in nudging music consumers away from illegal ways of consuming music in the digital space.

This route involves addressing the problem of music piracy from the consumer demand side. Our research shows that lack of awareness that the consumer was using a pirated source was a primary deterrent to consumer choices. Statistics depicted that 27% of the respondents did not know the meaning, and 32% were unaware of the consequences of piracy like malware used to steal consumers credit card details.

The 2021 IFPI Music Consumer Study Report has amplified the growing concern about the proliferation of music piracy in India. It highlights the piracy rate at 68%, higher than the global average of 30%, leading to revenue losses of 217 cr. to 300 Cr. annually- a figure that translated to 23% of the recorded music revenues as of 2021.

These alarming statistics make it imperative to address and arrest this problem using different arrows in the quiver such as administrative, legal, and the focus of this policy brief, the Digital Civics route via the Nudge approach.

Data and Methodology

Our research was conducted via online surveys among participants from India aged ten and above to study how behavioural science can help in redirecting consumers of pirated music towards legitimate websites for music consumption.

We were keen on understanding whether different message framing techniques posed as web page pop-ups on illegitimate websites will redirect consumers towards legitimate websites to stream or download music across different demographics.

The efficacy of these techniques was tested through multiple exercises. The pop-up included a “click here” link along with the warning message, which made it easier for the consumer to choose redirection instead of looking for a legal source by themselves.

Presented in one of three forms, participants were asked to imagine receiving such pop-ups on screen:

  1. Data Breach Framing:

“Thank you for your interest in this song. Downloading from this source would lead to downloading pirated content. This site is not safe and can misuse your data without consent. “click here” to download music from an official source.”

  1. Loss to Artist(s), Authors Composers Framing

Thank you for your interest in downloading this song. This source does not pay your favourite artist. “click here ” to download music from an official source and help support your favourite artist and the overall music industry.”

  1. Crime Breach Framing

“Thank you for your interest in this song. Downloading from this source would lead to downloading pirated content- A Criminal Offence. “click here” to download music from an official source.”

Significant findings

The results showed that 37% of the consumers were willing to redirect their search to legitimate websites when the nudge pop-up framed piracy as a criminal activity, followed by 34% for the threat of data breach and 29% for the message in terms of loss to their favourite author composer. Listeners who claimed to know the meaning and consequences of piracy were 2.48 times less likely to consume pirated music or download illegal content, directly reflecting the impact of dissemination of the right information to consumers.

Our research further shed light on the susceptibility of younger age groups to fall into the piracy trap. Statistics show that they are 1.04 times more likely to pirate content than older age groups. Other demographics like age, education, and gender did not play a significant role in determining which sub-groups are more susceptible to piracy.


While the Nudge theory may not be an end to the means, it does set the tone to initiate a movement where the recorded music industry collectively works in solidarity with the law enforcers and engages with ISPs to explore different ways to combat the “Piracy” beast.

Image source: here