Streaming Music Wins…But Maybe That’s Okay

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The big story a couple years ago were the new streaming music sites entering the North American music scene. Spotify, Rdio, Deezer and now Beats have all entered the our consciousness and have become a major way people consume music. However, while these companies have become an integrated part of our music industry fabric at this point, the Streaming VS Sales debate rages on. Artists tweeting out their royalties, industry experts extolling the virtues and downfalls, the debate is endless.

However debate as much as we like, the realities are:  

1. Streaming has a long way to grow (especially in their compensation models)

2. Streaming wins everytime!

Here are 3 reasons why:

1. It’s cheaper for fans.

At the end of the day we all have a wide variety of music that we dig, and most of us can’t afford to buy it all. Even if we could afford it…most of us aren’t willing to cough up $10 to check out something new.

2. It’s more convenient for fans.

Along with our limited cash flow, most of us have limited hard drive space. I don’t know about you but music takes up almost all of the space on my phone, a ton of space on my computer and my iCloud is full. This makes it harder and harder for me to have the digital space to own and listen to new records.

3. It’s WAY more social

Spotify, Rdio, etc. make it their business to be social. They encourage following people/playlists and find new music. With the enormous amount of music available today people want better discovery options and curation than iTunes allows for. Following friends on streaming gives you back the option of having a nerdy guy at the record store who told you what new records were worth it.

So…streaming wins. It WILL all but replace downloads. There are issues with payouts right now, there isn’t enough cash in it to replace sales, which is problematic.

BUT here are 3 reasons why that’s not all bad.

1. The opportunity for music discovery is WAY better

The reality is, very few people buy music from iTunes until they are all ready a decided fan. They just don’t. However, people do tune into Spotify playlists, they do try out bands their friends are listening to. If you can get into a few people’s playlists, the opportunity for spread is much greater than if you get into a few people’s private iTunes library.

2. Revenues should grow

Now…I’m not one to trust this fully at face value, however, the economics of most streaming services are based on paying artists more as the service grows it’s subscriber base. Therefore as more and more people pick up the paid packages of Spotify, Beats, Rdio, etc. artist revue per stream is set to increase. Only time will tell…

3. You can position yourself as curator and community leader

At the end of the day, most people want to be told what to listen to. This used to come from two sources, nerds at record stores (almost extinct) great jockeys and MDs at radio stations (endangered). Musicians were never a large piece of that puzzle. User-centred playlists change that. You can be both discovered in playlists and create stations and playlists others can tune into. This puts you in the drivers seat. Many people subscribe to and/or search for their favourite artists, insert yourself into that conversation! Point them to your music, point them to your friends music…lead your community!

The Wrap-up

Album sales are certainly a more straight forward transaction, but they are going away, whether or not we like it. Smart artists will adapt, change and become leaders in the new world. Ultimately, direct income from recorded music will probably decrease, however the opportunity for worldwide discovery and revenue has never been higher. Fighting new tech fails every time…remember all the major artists who used to shun iTunes?

Learn new tech, embrace it, come out on top. While the transactions may be less straight forward sites like Kickstarter, Patreon, Pledge Music, etc. have proven fans like financially supporting acts they love. Be smart, use streaming to let them fall in love.