From the days of Napster and P2P file sharing, the music industry has tried to hold up all those scummy people illegally downloading music as the ultimate destroyers of the industry. It didn't matter that CDs were overpriced and that the vast majority of music was nothing more than formulaic crap; but it turns out that music has never been doing better, and piracy is declining.

The music industry loves nothing better than to deflect our attention regarding their own failing business model, and enflame industry (and government) attitudes by claiming that piracy is rampant and destroying the music business; when really nothing could be further from the truth.

As many of the more technologically knowledgeable folks who watch the music industry will tell you: piracy is a simple problem to solve and boils down to a couple of very simple proposals. One, give the consumers something that they are actually willing to pay for instead of constantly trying to push a load of crap they like to call music down our throats. When you can do that, make it as simple as freaking possible for us to acquire those goods. Stop making the consumer jump through all kinds of hoops just to pay for and download a song, or album.

However, like a growing number of likeminded people, we are finding that some aspects of the industry is waking up and actually putting the consumer first and making that purchase option drop dead simple.

As a result, and backed up by a recent report from the NPD Group, the need to hit the illegal downloads to get the music you want is becoming something of the past. In fact the NPD report points out that the volume of illegally downloaded music from P2P services saw a decline of 26% in 2012 when compared to 2011. Additionally, the number of people downloading musically illegally dropped by 17%.

Interestingly the report showed that it wasn't just illegal downloads that were declining, but also music being burned and ripped from CDs that were owned by friends and family saw a huge drop of 44%.  Moreover, the number of illegal music being downloaded from file locker type sites dropped by 28%.

Much of this drop across the board, according to the NPD, is due to the increase of free music-streaming services like Spotify and Rdio. Apparently, their study found that nearly half of those that had stopped downloading music illegally said it was because they started using free and legal streaming services as their primary outlet.

via Slashgear