Almost every modern musician knows the arguments for and against music streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer… etc. It’s pretty much common talk amongst independent musicians that without millions of people streaming our songs, we’d hardly make any sort of sustainable revenue. Here’s where things could get interesting.
Streaming levels the playing field
I’m definitely more in support of streaming services as a consumer, because it really is a better product. Rather than being subject to the recommendations of traditional DJs or terrestrial radio stations, I get to listen to the songs I want on-demand. This isn’t for the mainstream, but the artists who are at least on independent labels and their catalogs are included on streaming services.
Streaming services have allowed consumer behavior to move in this direction, and whether you’re a mainstream listener, or purveyor of the niche, chances are you can find what you’re looking for online.
But that makes the musical product disposable
This is my key concern. Culturally, we are becoming bankrupt because within a day, there will be something new to listen to, and creating playlist after playlist gets old really fast. In any case, streaming services have probably played a big role in making the musical product disposable. The MP3 is dead to almost anyone who is subscribed to a streaming service and can even listen to that music offline.
But how dead is the MP3?
To the consumer, the MP3 is dead. I’ll go out there and say it. Streaming services makes it redundant to manage MP3s via your desktop synced to your mobile and what not. You don’t even need to be concerned about how much space you have in your cloud service to store your MP3s. As long as you maintain your subscription, you won’t lose your music. It is nestled comfortably in the service of your choice.
But there is a whole segment of the consumer that the MP3 isn’t dead. And I’m not talking about people who have not jumped onto streaming services. I’m talking about those who still need MP3s to create.
Harnessing the market of creators
Here’s where I think it starts to make sense. DJs, Samplists, Filmmakers, Vodcasters, Game Studios and the whole lot out there need access to MP3s, or high quality audio files if they’re going to continue their craft. Now more than ever, music creators should make it easier for the pro-sumer and professional market to easily purchase MP3s or HQ audio files so that they can continue creating as well.
Indie musicians will have to re-look their pricing and product models to cater to this growing segment of people. And I believe they will be growing, because technology is definitely making it easier for other creators to create. As the consumer tech market matures, the creative market will grow along as well.
So streaming services are a great way to appear in the peripheral of content creators, who are always on the lookout for music that fits their pursuits. But I don’t think there is any self-serve model out there now that caters to this new marketplace.
For further reading, Disaster Peace shared a postmortem that inspire this post.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.