MIDiA Data Point Of The Day: Download Buyers

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by Mark Mulligan

163b470b-d0cc-4f2f-bf94-32c9104fa441The standout sales success of Adele over recent week has many permutations, not least of which is the keen reminder that many millions of people still buy downloads and CDs. The  streaming transition continues to gather pace yet it has many years yet to run. The music industry is now founded on multiple, co-existing groups of consumers, some of whom stream, some download, some buy CDs, some do combinations of these. This presents the opportunity to target and deliver results, as we saw with Adele.

One of the defining characteristics of the modern music industry is that one size no longer fits all. While the transition phase continues this remains more true than ever. But the different audiences are not easily defined by simple rules such as age and gender, though both play a major role.

Music downloads are a case in point. 55% of consumers that buy downloads are aged 25-44, a core demographic for streaming services. While it is true that once consumers have got used to using a music subscription service their download spending will dwindle or halt, they most often still have their payment details registered with their favourite download stores. Thus when Adele and Taylor Swift held back their albums from on-demand streaming, subscribers that wanted the album could easily pay a quick visit to iTunes, Amazon or Google Play to get the album.

Over the coming years this dynamic will lessen and streaming holdouts will find that the action will deliver diminishing returns. But for now the two will co-exist enough for specific artists to be able to make the windowing tactic work.

The bigger issue though, is all of those download buyers that are in the streaming demographic but don't spend $10 a month on music and don't want to start doing so. These are consumers that buy singles, often frequently, and albums by their favourite artists when they are in cycle, but are not high spending aficionados. At the moment their streaming option is, in practice, free. The 25-44 year old download buyers are the next big opportunity for subscriptions, but unless lower priced on-demand products come into play, not even Apple with all its marketing and platform might will convert them.

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