A decade ago, Apple revolutionized the music industry with the iTunes Store. Apple is now reportedly attempting another revolution with the rumored launch of Apple Music, a music streaming service based on the existing Beats Music's BeatsMusic. Streaming music based on curated humor. BeatsMusic releases streaming music based on curated humor. It will be released on January 21. BeatsMusic is a humorous and genre based player, so it hopes to bring you higher quality music for your money. Read more . But down the road, it could be trying to kill existing free music streaming services.
Right now, Spotify offers a lot of free music. Spotify Music Streaming:What You Get for Free Spotify Music Streaming:What You Get for Free The long-awaited music streaming service, Spotify arrived in the US last week. However, unlike other streaming services, Spotify offers an ad-supported free option, making millions of albums and songs available to you through... Read More It currently has 45 million free users and 15 million paid users. However, The Verge recently reported that Apple is getting music labels (which control the services songs are played on) to stop supplying their songs to Spotify's free listeners.
Since Apple is the biggest digital music powerhouse, it can use some strong arming tactics. Of course these are not fair and Apple is being investigated for them. But we're not lawyers, so let's just leave it alone.
The situation we face as consumers is simple:Spotify's free platform could be disappearing. How does that affect us? Why is Apple trying to kill free streaming? What impact will it have on piracy? And what does the future look like?
Should music be free or should it have a price? As a consumer, I obviously want to get it for free, as long as doing so doesn't hurt anyone else. But that is impossible, since the artist needs to be paid..
The Internet made music piracy easier than ever. Free music suddenly became easier than ever. And there is a perception that free streaming services are reinforcing the idea that music should be free. There is some evidence to support this as well.
For her Honors Thesis, Caitlin M. Seale of the University of Southern Mississippi surveyed college students to find out the impact of streaming services on their music consumption. She found that “respondents indicated that they believed that cloud streaming services would strengthen consumer acceptance of music piracy, as the service is free but with limited access.”
The same study also showed a decline in the amount of music pirated by those using cloud streaming services. However, it also led to a decline in sales of CDs and digital downloads.
Also, iTunes sales for music downloads are declining. In a larger study, Mark Mulligan of MiDiA Research found that while streaming has opened up new markets, it has dented digital music downloads. “23% of music streamers used to buy more than one album a month, but they no longer do. Download sales are the hardest hit and will continue to feel the pinch with 45% of all music downloaders, plus music streamers.” The study indicates that by 2019, download revenue will decline by 39 percent ..
What is the largest music download store in the world right now? Yes, you guessed it, iTunes. So naturally, the above information is a problem for Apple. However, he also acknowledges that streaming is the future of music and ownership is dead. The End of Ownership:Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation The End of Ownership:Netflix, Spotify, and The Streaming Generation Streaming media is convenient, but you're giving up something important:digital media ownership. Read more . So you need to monetize streaming as fast as possible.
Aside from Apple's problems, big artists have complained about Spotify's free service many times, saying it doesn't compensate them fairly. Perhaps the most famous of these is Taylor Swift's article in the Wall Street Journal, after which she pulled her entire Spotify song catalog...
Our Own Harry Guinness Thinks Taylor Swift Is Wrong About Spotify Why Taylor Swift Is Wrong About Spotify Why Taylor Swift Is Wrong About Spotify Last week Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify, inspired countless headlines and reignited the debate about music streaming services. Read More
Take, for example, songwriter Aloe Blacc's Wired article, which also called for streaming services to pay artists fairly. He said, "I think policymakers will one day recognize that a system that allows digital streaming services to enjoy huge profits while music creators fight is unbalanced and broken." It's hard to find fault with that logic.
The current payment system for music labels and artists is deeply flawed, as Vox explains in a detailed piece. It comes down to this:the right people who can do something to fix the situation are not interested in fixing the situation.
That's not a good enough reason, though, according to Jeff Price, owner of independent label Spin, who says, “[Streaming services] complain about how hard it is to figure out who to pay. Why don't you go be in a band and see how hard that is??”
It's not just about Spotify, either. Swift and other high-profile artists like Madonna, Rihanna, Daft Punk and others have joined Jay-Z's new streaming platform, Tidal Music's streaming service Why Jay Z is doomed Why the streaming service Jay Z's Tidal Music Streaming Is Doomed Jay Z recently relaunched Tidal, the music streaming service he acquired for $56 million. Tidal has 99 issues, and Ringtone is one. Read more . However, Tidal has also drawn criticism from other artists, who say it will increase the divide between big and small artists, and even increase piracy.
Lily Allen commented on Twitter:
Some smaller bands have embraced the new ecosystem, for better or worse. Nicole Miglis, singer of Hundred Waters, told Vox, “I totally support free music. I think it's called stealing now, but I think that's going to change in the future.”
As you read the thoughts of industry analysts, top artists, independent artists, publishers, streaming services, download services, and more, one thing is clear:no one has a solution, everyone has a problem. /P>
In a way, Taylor Swift is right when she called Spotify a "big experiment." Because that's what it is right now. No one seems to have any hard data on whether free streaming or paid streaming is the future and how it will affect the music industry.
As a consumer, I have used Spotify as both a free and paid user. Spotify's free tier is ad supported, and revenue is used to pay publishers and artists. It is definitely more convenient than even music piracy. However, the ads end up being quite annoying.
After using Spotify Free for a while, I decided to pay $10 a month to upgrade. I listen to music enough that the money is worth the ad-free experience. More importantly, $10 was a good enough price to pay for Spotify's convenience over music piracy. I knew the song I was listening to was legit, I knew I didn't have to worry about malware or any malicious downloads, I knew I was always available when I wanted without fear of an illegal song being taken down, and I knew I wasn't breaking the law pirating music.
The philosophy for combating music piracy differs. Some believe that we need stronger laws and detection of illegal downloads. Others believe that it is an economic problem and needs an economic solution. There are ideological extremes on both sides, such as people who believe music should never be free and those who believe music should always be free. The only constant is that piracy has always existed and continues to exist..
Take, for example, a service like Netflix for streaming movies and TV shows. Yes, it is paid and there are many users who pay for it. However, pirates come up with apps like Popcorn Time for free movie torrent streaming. Is Popcorn Time safe? How Torrent Safely Is Popcorn Time Safe? How to torrent safely Popcorn Time is illegal. If you're thinking of using it, here are several things to know before you put yourself at risk. Read more.
History has shown that every time the music or movie industries think they have found a way to stop piracy, the pirates have found a new way. As Forbes says, hacking won't kill you and you can't kill it either. Ergo, while Kazaa and Napster shut down, music piracy hasn't stopped.
Piracy is a complex problem and it will not be solved by free or paid music streaming services. Yes, it will have an impact, but what the impact will be is not yet known.
Currently, Spotify Free works as a gateway drug for you to pay real money for the paid experience. However, Spotify says that 45 million users stick to free access, while only 15 million pay for the service. The conversion ratio needs to improve. That said, disabling Spotify Free could lead to even fewer conversions, not to mention we could see new avenues for piracy.
In fact, Netflix and other video streaming services offer a one-month free trial, which works like a gateway drug to get users hooked on the experience. Apple is rumored to be offering a similar trial period for Beats Music, and that could be what Spotify will eventually be forced to do as well.
The strongest case for Spotify Free is this. Warner Music Group, one of the major music labels, has said that music streaming revenue has surpassed music download revenue for the first time in its history, or the history of any of the other major record labels. Q>
Whether this is due to the freemium model or not cannot be proven without further analysis. However, what Spotify is doing right now is translating into revenue for Warner. As it stands, Spotify is one of the biggest streaming services and has 75 percent of users on the Free model. It would be surprising if a significant portion of Warner's revenue didn't come from those free users.
As someone who has made the journey from Spotify Free to Spotify Premium, I firmly believe that Apple's attempts to covertly kill off the free version would be detrimental to the music industry. Music is increasingly expected by many people to be free. Not offering an option for free music is not the progressive way forward, nor is it in the interest of artists or consumers.
If Apple can't come up with a business plan that allows them to give away Apple Music for free, that's their problem. If the competition can offer free music, let them. May the best person win. Apple already fears that Spotify is the end of iTunes. Spotify Your Music Collection:The End Of iTunes. Spotify Your Music Collection:The End Of iTunes. Spotify is no longer content to compete with radio, they now compete with the idea of even owning music. Read More
What do you think Apple should do? And will you stick with Spotify if it has to kill the free version? Remember, there are many alternatives like Rdio Spotify vs. Rdio:A Complete Comparison Spotify vs. Rdio:A Complete Comparison I recently canceled my Spotify Premium membership after a year of uninterrupted monthly payments to the company. This decision came about when I accidentally signed up for 14 days free of Rdio Unlimited. Frankly, I... Read More Please let us know your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.