Let's not fight, I'm tired can we just stream?
If streaming once seemed to be a new battle for the music industry to fight, reminiscent of Internet piracy, things have taken quite a surprising new turn. Youtube and Spotify, to name a few, have been accused of undermining artists' right to fair rates for their work. The former has even been claimed to make profit on the base of stolen content.
But major labels are already looking for streaming knowledge amongst job applicants; Universal, Sony and Warner have all partnered up with Spotify to develop an innovative talent show called “The Stream”; some artists themselves are making their music available on streaming platforms before anywhere else (for instance, Frank Ocean's new album showed up on Apple Music last week prior to even appearing on iTunes); and Jay-Z even has his very own streaming platform, Tidal, where his friends launch exclusives.
What is it that streaming services can offer the music industry that no one can refuse? Here I list a few things that I believe play on the side of streaming services.
A way to find new artists and test them out while investing less resources, but still having to make an effort to make them found.
Direct and uninterrupted contact with fans. This one could take a step further with some streaming services' plans of building in a social network to connect artists with fans all in one.
Millions of loyal and captivated consumers. Spotify has 30m subscribers (around the size of Peru), new player Apple Music has already gathered 15m subscribers in its first year since its launch, and the list goes on and on. In fact, the streaming business welcomed 40% more paying users last year than in the previous period. In addition, new product development, powered by a rising rivalry between competitors, is expected to attract a new pool of consumers.
Artist promotion and funding. Such is the example of Apple Music. In the near future, indie labels could benefit from these resources.
Unprecedented curation systems. That is the case of Deezer (a French streaming service that, by the way, has just been launched in the U.S.), with its Hear This, or Soundcloud, where new engineers are being recruited to develop a more sofisticated system o music reccomendation that caters to the listener's taste by analysing the sound waves of their favourite tracks.
Earlier issues concerning streaming, like users' uploading of tunes they do not own, are being solved through new identification systems. This way, copyright protection is being enhanced. Just another positive!
Now, the fight will probably take place between numerous competitors, some of which are offering slightly different, but still very similar services. Google Music, Pandora and Napster are already experiencing some survival trouble. Oh, and by the way, Apple is closing down the iTunes Stores music department in favour of Apple Music.
In short, the industry has proven smart enough to realise that streaming is shaping the future of music right now. Given that evolution is inexorable, why not take its hand and move forward with it?