Streaming Music – the Mix Tape Labels should Embrace

POSTED BY Steffen Sorrell
With Christmas fast approaching, I’m looking forward to having some time to kick back and listen to some music without thinking I should be doing something else (working, cooking, going out etc etc).

The current flavour of the month for my ears is Jeff Buckley’s Grace and guess what: I don’t own a digital copy. I own it on vinyl, which came with a CD (cheers Columbia) that I put on when I’m at home, while when I’m on the move I just stream it. So why would I need to use up storage space to keep a digital copy?

I realise my position in terms of the contract I have with my mobile operator is fairly unusual (ie unlimited data plan), and this allows me to use data services without a care in the world. However, operators are increasingly bundling offers in with their plans that allow users to access streaming music services without impacting their data use.

Streaming is king – and Taylor Swift ain’t happy. Actually she is; she just went platinum: and more than half of those copies were sold as physical discs. However, that’s not the place to reach the greatest audience.

In our Top 10 Predictions for 2015, we foresee a paradigm shift in operator pricing, where data bundled with services  is the core as opposed to voice. So where does that leave the music download market? iTunes sales are reported to be down 13% in 2014; with this figure having increased from a 2.1% drop in 2013.

Assuming this operator service delivery model continues, for Western markets at least, it’s game over for digital downloads: there simply is no longer any value in this form of delivery over physical purchase (tactile, audio quality, artwork) or streaming (convenience, freemium pricing model). We are seeing the beginning of downloads’ Last Goodbye.

Back in May, we forecast that 3.6 billion consumers would be using cloud services (of which streaming music is a part) by 2018; now is the time for labels to encourage streaming music service adoption to maximise the potential of this vast pool of users. Streaming platforms encourage user engagement and sharing which in turn drives further use, in a similar fashion to the venerable mix tape; except this one’s legal and generates revenue.