The audioscape is shifting. In 2014 digital music revenue matched the physical and though the report isn’t out yet I suspect the balance tipped over towards digital in 2015. Whilst downloads still just about make up the bulk of that revenue, streaming services show continued growth to satisfy the personalised on-demand needs of the ever impatient consumer.
It is becoming more apparent however, that rather than posing a threat to traditional radio broadcast, it is in fact providing pre-cognitive insight to help programmers find the next hit, or know when to stop playing a track to death, thankfully.
Having long been an advocate of services such as Spotify, Amazon Prime and YouTube I’ve pondered several times where the data connections between airplay, streaming and record sales will join up.
A short while back I spoke with Spotify (the world’s biggest music streaming service) about how their platform can inform what’s next, allowing them to be ahead of the curve on everything from up and coming artists to how to name their playlists, the value is clear; it’s a completely accurate analysis of listener choice.
Streaming is a mainstream activity. Over two thirds of internet users accessed a licensed digital service in 2015 and the strength of the industry today is seen in the total flexibility it provides, allowing artists to reach a much wider audience in a way they want to be reached.
This has seen a shift from music models based on ownership to those based on access, which coupled with consumers streaming more and more on smartphone and tablets (up 114% in 2015 according to Wells Fargo) means subscriptions will continue to shape the music portfolio available.
So what’s next? I reckon we have three things to look forward to:
First up, music will become more intuitive. The Echo Nest acquired by Spotify provides an intelligence platform that mixes human skill, clever algorithms and social curation, meaning you can quickly get personal. This thinking will spread.
Secondly, enhancing how we perform by influencing the frequency of our brainwaves will continue to improve. We all know that faster music makes us run faster and slower music focusses breathing for yoga. This thinking is already built into how Spotify’s algorithm can work, for example their partnership with Nike which matches music to your tempo.
Thirdly, a merger of these two approaches to create a constant seamless service that will use prediction to enhance our brainwaves through binaural beats so we all become super intelligent thanks to music.
OK, maybe that last one is a few years away… but it will happen.