Record industry artist and publisher group, British Music Rights (BMR), claims the average 14- to 24-year-old now has almost 900 illegal tracks each on their MP3 players.
The average young person's MP3 player contains an average of 1,770 tracks, around half of which have not been paid for. Almost two thirds (63 per cent) of respondents surveyed said they download music on peer-to-peer file sharing networks, while 42 per cent allow others to download their music.
More than half (58 per cent) admitted to copying music from friends' hard drives, while 95 per cent have copied music in some way.
However, the CD is still seen as a viable for this age group, with 60 per cent saying they will continue to buy the physical format.
But there is evidence users want a legal file sharing service and 80 per cent said they would even pay for the content.
Feargal Sharkey, former-Undertones frontman and now CEO of British Music Rights, said it's clear young people are as engaged in music as previous generations and are still prepared to pay for it.
But he added the research shows how dramatically music consumption has changed, so a key challenge is to build a mutually beneficial partnership between the music industry and technology organizations.
The University of Hertfordshire carried out the research--which was the largest academic survey of its kind--for BMR earlier this year.