[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca – AC]
Back in the old days of overpriced CDs and peer-to-peer file-sharing, the record industry was brought to its knees by people stealing music. Steve Jobs offered some respite from the carnage by strong-arming the labels in accepting his terms with the iTunes music store, but the bleeding continued through programs like Kazaa, Limewire, Bearshare, Audio-Galaxy and dozens of others.
Music sales dropped from a peak of nearly US$22 billion in 2000 to less than half that 10 years later largely due to piracy.
Streaming was supposed to stop all that. By making virtually every song ever recorded available online for a low monthly fee (or, in the case of Spotify’s freemium tier, nothing at all), the thinking was piracy could be eliminated. Today, the streaming services give users access to a library of 45 million songs and counting.
You’d think that with the ubiquity of streaming services that it would be mission accomplished. No viruses. Proper metadata. Access to billions of playlists. The ability to make your own playlists. Constant recommendations of new material. High-quality audio. And if you’re a paying subscriber, you can listen to all your music offline. All you have to do is keep paying your monthly subscription fee — usually $9.99, the price of a couple of fancy coffees — and you have the whole of human musical history at your fingertips anywhere, anytime.
But this miracle of convenience isn’t good enough for some people.
Forbes also has a look at the situation here.