Predictions for Streaming Music in 2016

You may not like the concept of streaming (“renting” music, the low payouts to artists, data costs, etc.), but resistance is futile. While we’ll be able to keep our physical formats (CDs, vinyl), our virtual purchases (iTunes, etc.) and listening to the radio (terrestrial, online, satellite), the world is inexorably moving towards an era where the majority of music consumers will get their music from streaming music services.

This year should see some major changes in the streaming space. Fast Company posits these five coming developments:

  1. Pandora will morph into something different after its acquisition of Rdio.
  2. Your favourite songs will sound better.
  3. A streaming service will go under (or get acquired)
  4. Revenue from music subscriptions will explode
  5. Music will begin to shift away from “free.”

I agree with all of the above–and I have a few predictions of my own.

  1. There will be a series of important court decisions regarding how services like Spotify need to license and track the music they play. This should result in better payouts for composers and artists.
  2. We won’t see just one service go under or be acquired; we’ll see a bunch of streaming services get acquired. Don’t be surprised if Deezer is one of them. Why did they cancel their IPO? And how long can Tidal hold on?
  3. Canadian adoption of streaming will continue to increase slowly unless the telcos do something about the hideous prices we pay for data in this country.
  4. There will be a period where streaming companies try to compete on exclusives, forcing people to (a) make choices between different services; or (b) subscribe to multiple services. It won’t matter if you choose between (a) or (b) because the whole concept is doomed to fail. Consumers are too smart to be sucked into this kind of competition.
  5. Artists who refuse to stream their songs will be left in the dust. Get with the program or die.
  6. Terrestrial radio will finally start paying attention to streaming charts when it comes to deciding what to add to their playlists.
  7. Apple will roll out more Beats stations on Apple Music.
  8. Pandora will make noises about coming to Canada but won’t because they don’t want to pay this country’s licensing fees.
  9. Similarly, there will be noises about activating the FM chip in cell phones, but nothing will happen unless the government steps in.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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