If 2016 was said to be the year music streaming became the industry’s saviour and 2017 was the year streaming revenue surpassed physical music sales then 2018 is the year that streaming continues to go to bigger heights, with streaming currently accounting for more than half of the UK's music consumption. In the past year, growth of streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon has helped music revenues grow 41.9% to £577.1 million, the first time that revenue from streaming has brought more than half a billion pounds into the industry. As streaming continues to grow, the likes of hardback music purchases and downloads will likely continue their demise, with already revenues being down by 23.1% on music downloads from £214.6m to £165m.
So what is causing music streaming to excel, as the likes of ‘hardback’ copies - CDs and discs, downloads and other purchases fall into obscurity? One of these reasons is simply ‘cheapness’: the price of a streaming subscription or a commercial streaming service to stream an album is not just cheaper, but much more worthwhile than buying an album either as a download or a disc, as you can also listen to many other albums and songs on the same subscription without forking out the price of an album each time your favourite artist is to release new music. This has made the move towards streaming the most preferred option, not only as it is cheaper but more convenient too.
As humans, we prefer to have things delivered to us in a speedy and presentable manner, something that too includes our music. Before a world of high-speed streaming, personal music consumption was restrained to downloading songs to a device to be listened on, which made such consumption not only tedious but irritating. Venues that offered music were too, limited, as any songs that were to be played had to be pre-downloaded or exist on a CD that they could get their hands on. Music streaming has opened up the floodgates to finer opportunities to listen to your music, removing the necessity to wait for drawn-out download times or to pop to the local retail store, especially as the technology of today offers many opportunities to utilising the streaming of music.
Technology has really pushed the world towards streaming more than any other factor out there, with streaming integrations coming in thick and fast in the technological sphere. Cars that would previously take tapes or CDs are being upgraded to allow an individual to stream music instead through the likes of AirPlay and Android Auto in-car entertainment integrations, whilst smart assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home push streaming as the default way to listen to music on their devices. Too, companies that are opting to grasp streaming with both hands aren’t just doing it lightly but developing their products to leave no other avenue to listen to music except through streaming, with CD inserts being left out of newer technology and cars.
As powerful as streaming may be, there are still a few limitations that are holding it back from its full potential, one of these being the legal requirements that are necessary for public music streaming, that private consumption isn’t required to face. When streaming music in a pub, club or restaurant, for example, certain commercial licences such as the PPL and PRS are required. This doesn’t necessarily make commercial streaming a negative but it does add an additional factor that needs to be considered. Another limitation to the full growth of streaming is that although it adds convenience to many of our music-listening habits, music executives are still having trouble coming to appropriate royalty agreements for the plays that their musicians’ songs achieve on the streaming service. This has seen some artists, such as Taylor Swift and Jay Z go without featuring their songs on streaming platforms, with Jay Z choosing to keep his songs exclusive on his own platform, Tidal. As music streaming continues its growth, it’s likely that these hindrances will be solved, pathing the way for the full and undisputed streaming as the predominant method of listening to music.
There is no doubt that with all these changes coming to tech, that the music industry will continue to diversify itself with a variety of intelligent and unique ways of delivering music to the end user in a way we like best. With private streaming consumption being readily available and various other commercial music solutions being offered by the likes of soundjack to provide the end user with an intelligent method of music delivery known as ‘dubbing’: delving into the world of great music, wherever you are, doesn’t have to be far off. With soundjack, you don’t have to look far for game-changing background music technology that not only is legal (with all dubbing and copying licences being paid for) but a simple and convenient way of bringing a commercial music solution to your consumers.