Streaming, Monetizing and Direct to Fan Sale Platforms Just Keep Growing:
Many people don’t realize, but streaming music has actually been around since 1993 and became mainstream after hitting the media around 2003. Since then it has taken over and pretty much everyone on the planet is aware of it, even if it’s not their preferred method of listening to music. Streaming music is getting close to controlling 50% of the music market, up from 26% in 2011. Some of the other numbers are astounding to think about in and of themselves. Jamvana’s research has shown Soundcloud for instance has 175 million users and counting, Rhapsody has grown 60% in just the last year, and Spotify has 60 million users, 15 million of which pay monthly. In addition, new services like Tidal are popping up with more of a focus on quality. Even with some bumps in the road, it appears Sony is behind the Jay Z and multi-millionaire group of investors that own Tidal, so there is no reason to believe they won’t be successful. It is also clear existing streaming services are ramping up with Apple, Spotify and Pandora all recently acquiring similar data and song tracking and analytical companies.
With all of the controversy in the music industry about streaming and monetizing, and with the very popular Grooveshark going down April 30th, Soundcloud has been pretty lucky. They are however finally forging their way into monetization. The UK streaming giant settled some royalty disputes as of late by teaming with Merlin, which handles rights for 20,000 indie record labels. They also partnered up with Zeft a couple of months ago helping them mediate with original owners of content. Similar to Soundcloud, Zeft set up a deal with Youtube recently to announce their new paid subscription service. Warner Music continues to honor their content licensing agreement with Soundcloud as well, which indicates strength with the backing of a major label.
Meanwhile, one of Jamvana’s partners Apple continues to lurk in the shadows, foreseen by many to make an even bigger impact on the streaming world. Silicone Valley’s big brother has been working to unveil the streaming platform they plan to monetize expected as early as this month. It has been in the works for a long time as they bought Beats by Dre last year with little to no interest in the headphones, but more so in Beat’s large following in the streaming community. Only time will tell if the once ever-dominant iTunes king will reign again, or get pushed aside by other existing services. Something tells us they’ll be just fine.
Spotify is trying to stay ahead of the curve by announcing some brilliant new features for their 60 million plus listeners. Already available in the US, Spotify Running bases the songs played on a runners pace and tempo by matching BPMs. Also released for the US is Spotify Now, which will also be intuitive by judging your mood at different times of day and for different activities. Spotify is currently perfecting a counter to Snapchat too and has added some partners for video services, podcasts, and internet radio all coming soon.
There is yet another platform on the block that has been gaining speed. Originated in 2008, Bandcamp changed the world with direct to fan sales and now boasts they have paid out over $100 million to artists. Furthermore, recent news has told us another partnership is at hand as Bandcamp and Rhapsody have joined forces as well in what seems to be a new trend. Rhapsody has grown 60% between 2014-2015 and has 2.5 million paid users, so it makes sense for the the two to team up to take on the majors. As the industry continues to adapt many other direct to fan sites have been been doing well too, like Topspin and Sunshine HQ. A lot of artists that have been jaded by labels, so direct to fan sales is a different way for them to bypass the majors and they feel comfortable with these platforms.
Streaming and monetizing, along with platforms like Bandcamp, are the wave of the future. Compact discs are becoming a hazy memory and artists are finally starting to get what they deserve in a fading pirated music era. The music industry is still far from perfect and the major labels still take way too big of a chunk, but at least there are some options. Sites like Grooveshark, regardless of their popularity with artists, are being pursued and shut down or forced to pay up. Soundcloud and Youtube are implementing monetization and paid services, again, another step in the right direction. We all know in this digital age, thieves and hackers will most likely find a way to do what they do, but be warned, it’s not 2010 anymore.
By Jamvana Mike