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How Streaming Is Changing the Music Industry

Posted on 29th August, 2014 by Mark Mulligan

Today we announced the launch of an important new MIDiA Research report: ‘The Streaming Effect: Assessing The Impact Of Streaming Music Behaviour’.  The report reveals how streaming music is now firmly established, with significant growth potential but how it is also contributing to declining download sales. MIDiA Research clients can get immediate access to the report, the entire data set and the full presentation.  To find out more about how to become a MIDiA Research client click here.


Here are some of the key findings of the report:


The streaming space is hotting up.  This week the IFPI announced that streaming revenue accounted for 63% of music sales in Denmark during the first half of the year while on the other side of the globe Taiwanese music service KKBOX raised $104 million from the Singapore Sovereign Wealth Fund (following on from earlier investments from HTC and Japanese telco KDDI).  With the total number of global music subscribers now at around 32 million it is clear that the shape of the digital music landscape is changing, but the nature of its impact on the broader music market is not straight forward.

Streaming Consumers Are Buying Fewer Albums

30 percent of consumers are music streamers and a fifth of these consumers pay to stream.*  Streaming has driven new market growth in countries such as Sweden but in larger markets such as the US it is denting digital music buying.  The first wave of subscribers was harvested directly from the most valuable download buyers, denting download sales in the process.  23% of music streamers used to buy more than one album a month but no longer do so. Download sales are affected most and will continue to feel the pinch with 45% of all music downloaders also music streamers.

Thus although streaming and subscriptions will grow by 238% on 2013 levels to reach $8 billion in 2019, download revenue will decline by 39% - only five percent less than the rate at which CD revenues will fall - leaving streaming and subscriptions representing 70% of all digital revenue.

Potential For More Growth

There is significant subscription growth potential: only 15% of all music streamers have yet tried a subscription trial and 22% say they would pay for a $9.99 service.  The next wave of adopters will be more mainstream than the first.  These will be consumers that spend less on music and so the cannibalistic impact on download sales should be less.  However the fact they are lower spending means lower priced subscriptions will be key to converting them.  Apple’s next move will be key.  The acquisition of Beats and its streaming service was a statement of intent and a strategic shift of gears.  Whatever Apple does could reshape the entire streaming market.

The Next Music Industry

Going digital was the first phase of the digitization of the music industry.  Moving from ownership to access is the next.  It won’t be an easy journey and many labels, artists and even music services will feel things get worse before they get better.  But make no mistake, we are on the cusp of a new era for the music industry, indeed we are on the cusp of a new industry.  The disruptive transformations that have taken place since the late 1990’s were the shifting of the sands.  Consumer behaviours changed, perceptions of value of music monetarily and culturally changed, technology changed.

We now have new foundation stones upon which the next music industry can be built.  For artists, labels, publishers, tech companies and others that have come into being in the last five years, this is the only world they know.  They are learning how to make sense of streaming, of what it means to move from ownership to access. These are the people that shape the future of music and of the music industry.  Streaming is changing forever how consumers interact with music.  Now the task is to define the industry in which these changes can make sense.

*Consumer data refers to UK, US and Brail


Previous comments

  • Kenny Jackson commented

    A great deal of money is to be made in streaming, and I am sure that precious little of it will ever be seen by the artists. When we lose ownership, access will be controlled by a few big gatekeepers. There was a short, sweet period during which independent artists gained the means to make something resembling a living, contributed to significantly by CD and download sales. Very sadly for most of us, that time is rapidly passing. I have to ask the music "consumers", can you imagine your life without music in it? If not, what are you willing to do to support the artists who create the music that you love?

  • Dayna Staggs commented

    Streaming is the Key in this 21st century digital Market. The Landscape has changed dramatically. Now the task is to define the industry and what makes sense for all major, indie, global brands in the streaming industry.

  • Peter Grenader commented

    You said:

    It won’t be an easy journey and many labels, artists and even music services will feel things get worse before thy get better

    typo at they.

  • Tomas Morriello commented

    Streaming like downloads in the past still unregulated, huge moguls such as Youtube and other giants ( yes Spotify also) will continue to block law changes that will force a higher share for those who produce, invest, promote and write music.
    Offering million of music titles is only possible at such low price because most of the work is not being paid for.

    There is hardly any renewal in music no investment or A&R being done, we created musical communism and only the absolute minority from a complete different music sector is making money from it.

    The situation is so bad that we are still promoting bands with 30 to 40 years because apart from that there is hardly anything that will sell due to the lack of investment.

    Appalling situation...

  • audiolfm commented

    I know that i will more will change in future....but now looking great music now. Old music was superb even radio jungles are better then this loud music. http://www.lfmaudio.com/services/radio/sung-jingles/

  • C Blarnet commented

    please! the cost per stream equals money down the drain for all current providers ...More users equals more cost, its a dead end!!!! When will people wake up there is no money to be made in this space...except for the labels...