The United Kingdom is the second worst country in the world for illegal music downloads (behind the United States) with Manchester the worst city.
In-depth study of illegal file sharing shows Manchester is most active UK city in illicit file sharing - and Ed Sheeran the most illegally downloaded perfomer.
And the artist whose music is illegally downloaded most frequently is Ed Sheeran.
The findings of Musicmetric's in-depth study show that more than twice as many albums are downloaded illegally in the UK as are downloaded on legal music sites such as iTunes.
More than 33 million albums and 10 million singles were downloaded illegally in the first six months of this year from the popular file sharing network BitTorrent. Equating to a loss in retail sales of more than 500 million pounds, the figures highlight why music companies are concerned about the damage this might do to their long term sales.
Musicmetric's study shows that about 15 per cent of the UK population have downloaded music illegally so far this year. The majority of these are thought to be under 30.
Andy Heath, director of British record company Beggars Group said: "Clearly the biggest problem with illegally downloaded music is that there is a generation who feel it is natural that music and all creative content is free".
Manchester is the main offender for illegal downloads. The research suggests there were more illegal downloads per person in the city than any other in the country.
The report is the biggest analysis of its kind to be undertaken. Guitarist Ed Sheeran's album + topped the poll of the most illegally downloaded albums in the UK, followed by albums by Rizzle Kicks and Rihanna.
Sheeran's album was illegally downloaded an average of 55.512 times every month. The singer said earlier this year that his legal album sales and illegal album sales were 'all relative'.
According to the report, the UK ranks second in the world as the highest user of illegal downloads, with the US topping the list. Rihanna's new album Talk That Talk was the world's most pirated release, with Musicmetric tracking 1,228,313 downloads in the first half of 2012.
The five worst offending nations (with artist) in the past six months were:
1: United States, 96,868,398 total shares (most for Drake)
2: United Kingdom 43,314,568 total shares (Ed Sheeran)
3: Italy 33,226,258 total shares (Laura Pausini)
4: Canada 23,953,053 total shares (Kanye West)
5: Brazil 19,677,596 total shares (Billy Van)