There is no doubt that “the clouds” are coming and they will dominate the landscape.
As a music fan, this is heaven. I’ve had the pleasure of testing a US Spotify log in and the user experience is fabulous for a plethora of reasons. It has led to new music discovery of like-minded artists that I stream as well as given my laptop a rest from digesting 200 gigs of music stored on an external hard drive. When I show Spotify to music and non-music friends alike, they are instantly intrigued and even more excited to hear that an iPhone app exists. Whether a fan is a diehard music freak or just a casual listener, it is human nature to be drawn to an easier and more user-friendly experience for any sort of everyday activity. As entertainment shifts further into on-demand, music consumers will be allowed to make the choice of how many commercials they want, if any, based on the tier they’re willing to pay to gain their ideal level of access.
While Americans sit and patiently wait for Spotify to navigate through the legal web of traditional content owners, we have been enjoying another streaming game-changer, Pandora. Our young acts adore being on the service and brag to their friends about it. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ll never forget watching my grandmother react to World War II-era artists coming out of my iPhone when I typed in “Glenn Miller Band,” sparking instant memories from her youth.
However, when I’m showing these services to people it’s interesting that the first question is “Great, but how do your artists make money this way?”
If you are an artist, manager or music content owner not signed up for SoundExchange, please do so now! When we took on Brendan Benson and Urge Overkill last year we signed them up immediately. Both artists were pleasantly surprised by the funds that were yet another new revenue stream for two previously-established artists.
It is also my job to constantly see the bigger picture and make sure all areas of an artist’s career are intertwined to help them grow and move forward. Thus, did you find out about Sydney Wayser because you listened to Regina Spektor’s Pandora station? Awesome! Did you discover Family of the Year because Spotify recommended the European version of their album to you on their homepage? Love it. (Fun fact: Family of the Year are a Los Angeles act who are all over European digital retail right now with songs they self-recorded and own the rights to. We couldn’t do it without Volvox Music, which demonstrates that there are companies who will work hard and structure deals that don’t strip rights away from artists).
Streaming services are a new way for fans to listen to music from artists they love while discovering like-minded new audio bliss. Increasing our artists’ fanbases is constantly the goal and, from a financial perspective, more/new fans drive traffic to shows, on and offline merchandise stores, and websites with enhanced album bundles all while generally collecting free or easily obtainable data on an artists’ audience.
In addition, exposure and growing fan-bases lead to song placements in film, television, and advertisements creating income and exposure yet again.
Music discovery through streaming service is not limited to new artists. Does Elvis Costello want you to discover his new album and tell every one you know? Indeed.
Maybe the above direct and ancillary revenue streams aren’t enough for pre-existing content holders. This is their loss since I strongly believe copyright owners missed their chance by not striking a deal with Napster in the late ’90s for a subscription-based service, which, in theory, could have benefited labels, fans, and artists.
In the meantime, our artists are thriving by navigating the stream. As on-demand media continues to get more technologically social by nature, I can’t wait to see our audiences grow and spread, yet remain focused since these services are rooted in the users’ personal preferences and influenced by their network.