Saturday 27 August 2016

A Summary Of The Recent Articles On Music Streaming And Where It Needs To Go From Here

This week there have been a few attention grabbing articles about music streaming services. If you are at all interested in the ongoing conversation about how these services work and how they are developing, then they are all must reads.

The first is called Why Apple Music Exclusives Are Good For Artists which is written by a former Apple employee Sean Glass. The title might sound like a defence of exclusives – but Sean is keen to point out that he is not in favour of exclusives, but he is ‘in favour of the work and value Apple is putting into music right now.’ Read it by clicking here.

The second article, from Music Ally provides some balanced commentary on the first article and how it shows the best and worst of Apple as an organisation – click here.

Then there’s another article from Music Ally on how Spotify is continuing to do well in converting its free users to paid for subscribers – click here.

With Spotify coming out and saying it was against exclusives, several news items (like this one on The Verge – click here) reported on how it is dealing with artists who give exclusives to other services.

Finally, Sean Glass posted some follow up thoughts to his original article. (Click here)

If you have the time and interest it’s worth reading all the pieces.

Here's my one simple thought, the key issue as I see it right now. It may be over simplistic, but I believe it's vitally important. 

More and more people are using streaming and more and more people are paying for it. From the industry and artist perspective that’s a good thing. But, and there’s a big but here, for every big artist that puts their album out as an exclusive there’s a huge number of illegal downloads. This week it was reported that Frank Ocean’s Blonde was downloaded illegally over 750,000 times and there have been similar issues with exclusive albums from Kanye West, Beyoncé etc. 

It might be a simple conclusion to draw, but it seems that whilst streaming could be the answer to reducing illegal downloading (one of the reasons it was developed in the first place after Napster’s creation threatened to destroy the industry completely) by clawing back some money into the industry, album exclusives through one streaming platform are the equivalent of the music industry shooting itself in the foot. Let’s hope for artists, the industry and the consumer the business can sort itself out. 

My view is that the industry needs to ditch exclusives and work together to make things work for everyone. If it continues down the exclusives route, especially if smaller acts start doing deals for album exclusives, it will become a bigger and bigger mess. I've seen a similar thing happen with music blogs, where now virtually every single two bit music blog is offering an 'exclusive premiere' of some tiny little artist and therefore actually restricting the chances of that artists music being heard, even if those exclusives are only in the short term before a wider release. In my opinion it's people thinking too selfishly and not about the bigger picture.

Come on Apple, Spotify, Tidal etc – all get in the room together and sort this out. There’s enough room for all of you, you just need to make it work.

What did Kanye West say? Oh yeah: “Let the kids have the music.”

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