This week the majestic T-Swifty (Taylor Swift for those of you not in the know) removed her entire music catalogue from Spotify. This has left me immeasurably sad, I can no longer stream 1989 and dance around my house to Shake It Off. But more importantly it got me thinking, cloud based music providers such as Spotify have changed the music industry.
When Spotify happened, the music industry went into crisis control mode – record sales were already dropping due to illegal downloads. The introduction of free streaming services had the lovely people at iTunes, to put it frankly, freaking out.
My generation is quite self-entitled. As millennials we believe we have the right to access and own any and all media when and where we want to, often in complete disregard of the legality of such entitlement. So streaming music via a subscription service, which can either be free with advertisements, or paid without, has mass appeal. It is instant, easy, and has an agreeable user interface without requiring massive storage spaces for an extensive music library.
Most people I know don’t own physical CDs anymore, let alone a CD player. Everything is digital. My iTunes music cloud, or my Spotify digital library are defining parts of my online identity. Everything contained in them has implications on my personality, lifestyle and cultural choices.
By having music services hosted in the cloud, companies are able to collate more data about their customers’ preferences, therefore building stronger customer profiles and increasing their abilities to specify services to those tastes. On unpaid Spotify accounts, advertisements and track suggestions can be specified to the users based on their previous actions on the app, location, searches, and previously payed tracks.
Now, I’m not claiming that the music industry is dying out, the opposite of that, I think it is undergoing an evolutionary change. Taylor Swift’s bucking of the Spotify trend has proved that the music industry is not completely dead – her album 1989 has sold 1.287 million copies in its first week, her fan base remains strong despite there being no way to access her music on Spotify.
While artists are generally no longer making as much money from their releases, their reach has been increased exponentially by free streaming services, which still do profit them for each play – whilst obviously, illegal downloads do not.
Music publishing company Kobalt has just announced that it’s Spotify revenue has overtaken that of iTunes for the first time, and that if growth continues at its current rate, Spotify will overtake iTunes in terms of revenue contributed to the music industry.
If the user growth on Spotify is increasing at such a steady rate, surely the cloud based music subscription service is capitalising on all its user data, right?
I wholly expect that Spotify will only become smarter as time passes and its end users increase. As a millennial I disagree with the notion that Spotify is over the hump, and that soon it will be phased out. I think music streaming services like it are the way of the future.
Vinyl will always have its niche, and purchases of albums on iTunes currently hold appeal because of media ownership and having availability across multiple devices. I think cloud based streaming will flourish as piracy laws are enforced more heavily, as illegal downloads are cracked down on, and wifi enabled devices become more and more readily available. As networks improve, cloud based streaming services will thrive.
If the cost is merely your musical identity preferences, and henceforth your customer profile (which you’ve already surrendered to the internet regardless might I add) why not take up a cloud based service?
If you can free up all that space on your device by removing your music library to the cloud, why wouldn’t you? It may not have T-Swifty in it right now, but I predict that she will return to streaming soon enough for us to dance again.