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March 22, 2013

Shift in Music Streaming Subscription Industry Fast-Approaching with Strong Interest from Tech Leaders

By Colleen Lynch, TMCnet Contributor

Due to the vast potential for profit in the music business, it seems every company from tech giants Amazon, Apple and Google to social media powerhouses, Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert), are looking to establish themselves the industry--and the competition is getting fierce.



Music streaming companies such as Pandora, Spotify (News - Alert) and Songza do not require paid subscriptions, so the companies are not exactly maximizing their revenue in the way that Apple does via iTunes. Still, these are the sites that currently dominate the music industry, namely because they are free and offer music catered to the individual’s tastes. This feature is popular as it not only allows users to play what they like, but helps them discover new music as well.

The recent surge of interest in music streaming is not only based on money, however, but customer loyalty.

“There is an ocean of music out there that people want,” explained Universal Music’s Jimmy Iovine.

According to Iovine, although iTunes paved the way for mobile music, consumers clearly want a different avenue for accessing music on mobile devices.

“iTunes was great but it needs a step forward,” said Iovine. If companies like Apple (News - Alert) don’t change and adapt to the changes in the music industry, they risk losing customers and falling behind the startups that will.

Analytics suggest that approximately 48 percent of smartphone users listen to music on their device, and that number is set to continue rising. Currently, mobile devices are used primarily for social networking, then games, and then news, but listening to music is a close fourth.

In a mobile behavior ComScore survey conducted last month, users ranked music capability as a 7.4/10 in importance for their mobile devices.

This makes music streaming and storage a vital component to mobile tech companies.

With Beats Music releasing a subscription streaming service “Daisy,” and Microsoft strongly promoting their Xbox Music service, the competition is already steep for companies such as Google (News - Alert), which is planning to create its own music subscription service similar to YouTube.

A spokesperson for YouTube commented “There are some content creators that think they would benefit from a subscription revenue stream in addition to ads, so we’re looking at that.”

Many of the companies interested in venturing into music streaming and subscription have come out with little comment on their plans, so it will be interesting to see where the future of the music industry is headed.

One issue that might throw a kink in the works however is how record labels and their artists will be compensated for music once this industry shift is made, but whether this issue is strong enough to stop the fast-growing music streaming and subscription business has yet to be seen.




Edited by Brooke Neuman
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