Rotherham's illegal downloaders target rap stars Minaj and Khalifa

SINGER-songwriter Ed Sheeran is the country’s most illegally downloaded performer but Rotherham area music fans are just as likely to pirate top rap acts like Nicky Minaj and Wiz Khalifa, according to new data.

Internet data company Musicmetric has charted illegal downloads across the globe and their research shows that Sheeran’s + was the UK’s most pirated album during the first half of this year, closely followed by Rihanna and Rizzle Kicks.

But a mapping tool produced by the BBC shows that Rotherham pop lovers are illegally downloading by more than the national average songs by Nicki Minaj, the Trinidadian-born American rapper known for her exotic outfits and whose Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is one of the best-selling albums of this year.

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In Mexborough, rap fans are more likely to go for Wiz Khalifa, whose debut album, Rolling Papers, was released last year.

The Musicmetric data shows that Manchester is the UK capital of illegal downloading with Sheffield in fifth place, ranked by shares per person.

The statistics conclude that in the first half of 2012, UK users illegally shared over 40 million albums and singles.

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Musicmetric monitored the global activity of BitTorrent files - a method of obtaining files by downloading from many users at the same time.

Music industry figures say artistes are losing out because music pirates are stealing their work, but defenders of illegal downloads say complaints by the big record labels are 'protectionism'.