Cloud-based music streaming trends: told you so!

From a new eMarketer post (and related report), here are some interesting snippets:

"In a sign of how important online streaming and subscription music services have become to the recording industry, trade publication Billboard recently updated its weekly Hot 100 song chart to include data from Spotify, Slacker, Rhapsody, Cricket/Muve, Rdio and MOG. The revamped methodology went live in March 2012, after several months of testing that showed a rising curve for audio streams, from 320.5 million in the first week of 2012 to 494 million during the week of March 4, 2012. By comparison, digital track sales during that period decreased from 46.4 million to 27.1 million, according to Nielsen…"

This is, of course, totally obvious: as good as it is, iTunes is essentially an inadvertent punishment for being interested in more music, since every desire to listen to aka 'consume' new music results in having to spend another dollar on downloading the track. Cloud-based services don't have that problem – and clearly I won't pay $ 20.000 to fill up my iPod with Apple's music, while I have no problem saving 2000 Spotify tracks on my iPhone anytime I want to (and for $10 / month).  I have been talking about this for the past 10 years, but here it is again: access is replacing ownership, like it or not (and I don't see a reason not to like it, as user or as creator). We can wish for this to be different, but it's not. End of story. Participate or become insignificant.

"Another indicator of the popularity of cloud-based streaming was a 50.5% increase in online music listening hours in 2011. According to a February 2012 report from AccuStream Research, US consumers spent 1.3 billion hours listening to music through internet radio and other streaming services in 2011, up from 865 million hours in 2010. The media spend associated with US internet radio and on-demand streaming services amounted to $293.7 million in 2011, according to AccuStream Research. This compares with $171.7 million spent on subscriptions to those services. AccuStream forecast that the total market would grow by 78% in 2012… Ad monetization is expected to grow at a healthy clip on the mobile side as well. eMarketer expects US mobile music advertising revenues to hit $591.5 million in 2015, more than doubling 2012’s total of $264.5 million. According to eMarketer estimates, the advertising component of mobile revenue is much higher with music than with gaming or video, largely because of the popularity of Pandora and Spotify on mobile devices…"

Yes, of course, streaming music currently makes much less money for the content owners and rights holders than downloading does – but the key to making this work is to get EVERYONE involved in streaming legally via one of the existing or future services and platforms, just like radio, i.e. starting with a more or less free / feels-like-free or freemium offering. The math is simple: if 200 Million people use Spotify or Simfy or Rdio – whether they pay 'with attention' aka advertising, via telco bundles, or with their own cash – then the rightsholders will see some serious money coming their way.  If they can't allow this market to grow, then it won't be created (at least not in a legal way)

The bottom line is: the music industry has to monetize AROUND the music, not just WITH the music. Think advertising, bundling, added values… new generatives. There is no sense whatsoever in fighting the obvious trend of access replacing ownership.


US online music revenues by source emarketer US online music streams versus downloads emarketer gerd leonhard blog

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