Guess What Kind of Music Is Driving Growth for Streaming Music Services?

The kind of music we got to hear used to be tightly controlled by radio stations, record labels, record stores and music video channels.  But when we figured out how to use the Internet, all that changed.  Everyone is now free to be their own music director.  And now with streaming music services, we have virtually ever song ever recorded just a couple of clicks away–for free (or something damn near close to it).  Never has so much music been available to so many people for so little.

This new-found freedom is has had a major impact on the whole area of music discovery, especially with streaming music services.  It takes almost no time to search out and listen to a hot new artist that comes to your attention.  Plus there’s the awesome serendipity of finding out about a new band as you listen to a curated playlist.  (I work for Songza as head of curation for Canada, so I may be a little bit biased here…)

We’re seeing big global growth in the adoption of streaming as a source of music and a company called Merlin–a global music organization that represents the world’s most important indie labels–has some some research into what’s driving this growth.  And a lot of the credit has to go to indie music.  I quote from the press release:

  • Independent music outperforms on streaming services: usage of Merlin members music on streaming services continues to outperform their share of the wider digital market by 10-20%. The trend is even more pronounced on premium paid-for subscription tiers, where usage was almost 30% higher than on free ad-funded tiers
  • Streaming volumes & revenues double: audio tracks by Merlin members were streamed more than 1.4bn times in April 2014 – more than double the streams reported in April 2013. Over that same period, revenues doubled to $89m
  • Revenue projections for the next 12 months: Merlin projections show the organisation expects to pay out in excess of $160m to members in audio streaming revenues over the next year
  • Streaming drives digital growth: for almost half of respondents, digital income now represents more than 50% of their overall business; for 1 in 5 Merlin members, streaming accounts for more than 50% of this digital income;  73% are optimistic for the future of their business

Digging a little deeper, they found that 10% of the US digital market went to artists outside the major labels.  That includes the National, Vampire Weekend, Tom Waits, Bad Religion, Wilco, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Arcade Fire and Marilyn Manson.

Streaming is the way of the future.  Best acclimatize yourself now.

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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