What is Next for Music Streaming?
Music streaming is becoming the future of the music industry as physical record sales continue to slide. When was the last time you bought a physical album? A new era of music consumption is exploding. Music streaming started in 1993 with the Internet Underground Music Archive(IUMA) launching as the first free online music archive of MP3 downloading songs. The beauty of IUMA was that it allowed unsigned artist to share music and communicate with their audience. Music streaming disrupted the industry because it allowed you to directly connect with the consumers. Services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, Tidal, Soundcloud and Apple Music have shifted the music industry away from album sales and toward digital downloads/streaming. Since we know where music streaming is, the next question is where it is going?
According to a Forbes article titled “Could Streaming Music Sites Eventually Collect Grammys, Emmys, And Even Oscars?” by Hugh McIntyre, “The Grammys are coming up next, and it won’t be long until an album, song or video that launched on a streaming platform winds up a nominee.” The future of this industry is a streaming service receiving the top accolades in the music industry. Netflix is already Emmy nominated. There are countless streaming services and original works being released on these services. For examples, Beyonce's Lemonade and Kanye West The Life of Pablo were exclusively released on Tidal before hitting the stores. Even mixtape streaming websites like DatPiff.com and Spinrilla are giving artists the option to released their music on their site and then send the consumer to iTunes to buy it. This method of listen before you buy was seen with Aboogie’s TBA and Meek Mill’s DC4.
Another avenue that streaming could go down is being counted as album sales. According to the RIAA, “(The) RIAA will include on-demand audio and video streams as a track sale equivalent in Gold & Platinum (G&P) Album Awards.” This is monumental because now artists will be more inclined to put their music on websites such as Spotify and Tidal. Entire albums are now being released on streaming sites, first to their paid subscribers before copies can be picked up at stores. Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo was released like that. Artists are also releasing their albums with music videos to their songs along with videos exclusively containing the audio version of the album. Beyonce and Frank Ocean chose to take this new innovative route. People are becoming inclined to pay for streaming services because their favorite artists are releasing original content on these services that cannot be found anywhere else. Streaming services such as Apple Music and Tidal are in bidding wars over exclusive rights to various artists’ content. This has led to controversy, including the handling of collaborative works such as “Pop Style” by Drake, in which Kanye West’s featured part was cut out because Drake is licensed by Apple Music, a rival of Kanye’s Tidal. Streaming wars will become commonplace between titans in the industry as they fight over subscribers. Apple Music is already quietly pacing itself to catch up to Spotify.
Music streaming is a becoming a big industry. Spotify has 40 million paying subscribers and 100 million total subscribers. Apple Music crossed the 20 million paid users mark in June. The avenues that I foresee streaming services going down will change the music game forever. Albums will be completely digital instead of being bought at stores. With albums going gold and platinum on streaming services, award shows will start looking at the streaming services for insight into how consumers interact with their music. The future's looking bright for music streaming services.