7 Ways Streaming Music Will Change in 2017, After Another Crazy Year
After streaming was confirmed to be the biggest source of revenue in 2015, John Paul Titlow looks at what is to come of the streaming era over the next 12 months as streaming services continue to roll out big updates and the RIAA still denounces the "value gap" created by YouTube and other platforms.This article originally appeared on Fast Company
[Photo: Flickr user Steven Depolo]
The music industry continued to adapt to the digital world in 2016. And there's much more chaos and innovation to come.
Last year was another eventful one in the history of music. And that was no surprise.
In 2016, the music industry saw its first signs of true growth since the internet started ravaging it a decade and a half ago. By mid-year, labels saw revenue grow 8.1% over the same period in 2015, fueled mostly by an explosion in subscribers flocking to services like Spotify (40 million subscribers) and Apple Music (20 million). Indeed, in early 2016, we learned that streaming had officially become the industry’s biggest source of income in 2015. While revenue from downloads and physical album sales both continued their years-long decline (by 14% and 17%, respectively), streaming revenue grew 57% during the first half of 2016, and since then, all signs have pointed to continued growth. This is good news for record execs, but what it means for artists and streaming platforms—which each have their own contractual relationships with labels—remains to be seen. As the pie grows, expect to see intensified battles over how it all gets divvied up.
There were also big changes within the streaming landscape itself. Amazon and Soundcloud launched Spotify competitors. Apple polished up its existing service with a new interface. Pandora also unveiled its premium subscription service, expected to launch in the first quarter of 2017. For those keeping count at home, that’s three new subscription services in one year, on top of the three that launched the year before (Tidal, Apple Music, and YouTube Red). Despite all the new competition, Spotify has held onto its dominant role, growing its listenership and flexing its playlisting muscle with more in-house curation and data-powered personalized playlists like Discover Weekly, Release Radar, and Your Daily Mix.
Despite all the upward-sloping numbers, the music industry still found reason to gripe. Its chief target this year was YouTube, which, along with Spotify’s free tier, creates what the RIAA calls a "value gap" for the industry. Simply put, ad-supported services just don’t make as much money as music subscriptions...