Strange but true https://torrentfreak.com/vk-a-notorious-pirate-site-praised-by-the-music-industry-180425/
For several years vKontakte, or VK, has been marked as a notorious piracy facilitator by copyright holders and even the US Government.
Like many other user-generated content sites, Russia’s largest social media network allows its millions of users to upload anything, from movies and TV shows to their entire music collections.
After several major labels reached licensing agreements with VK in 2016, it has transformed from one of the music industry’s largest foes to a rather helpful friend. This milestone was clearly marked in IFPI’s most recent Global Music Report, which was just released.
“[Russia has] become an interesting market. The local services are meaningful now, and VKontakte has gone from being the number one most notorious copyright infringer to being a positive contributor,” says Dennis Kooker, Sony Music’s President Global Digital Business.
If there was no free access to get a "taste" of different musical styles and genres many would not go on to purchase further aural works , whilst youtube does pick up most of the global traffic in this respect its often a diverting experience in terms of attention grabbing titles that often turn out to be simple time wasters akin to visual click-bait, with free content sites that stick to a specific focus no such distraction occurs to water down the users interest, potential purchasers are able to decide what they actually want to pay for and whats ok for a few minutes enjoyment but unlikely to be worth listening to more than a few times, we all know tracks like that I'm sure but this report makes it very clear that you can monetise a fanbase once you have a following for the artist/creator, censoring music until someone has paid and then complaining sales are down is still a very outdated business model, akin to selling a bag with something in it but not allowing anyone to see the bag contents.