With everything going to the “cloud” along with new devices and smartphones, it seems as though discovering music is becoming mainly based on streaming services. Slowly dying are the days of making mixtapes for friends or buying new CDs at the store. Obviously the novelty of discovering a gem of a band at a concert will always out-weight an online discovery, but it seems that this plethora of streaming services is here to stay.
From January 21, 2013 to March 24, 2014, music tech fan Peter Watts tracked the keywords of popular music services. Over the past year, SoundCloud was mentioned over 42 million times. Keep in mind that these mentions don’t necessarily translate directly into active users. In his article for Gigaom, Janko Roettgers adds that “Watts queried Twitter for any mention of the service, which includes articles written about the companies.” According to Watts, one of the problems with tracking Youtube or iTunes is that it is hard to tell what’s music and what’s not. Below is the top 10 list of his compiled data (full list here). SoundCloud almost quadrupled Spotify’s count. This surprised me, as I tend to think Spotify is the big thing right now. It always surprises me how many people at my school don’t even know about SoundCloud. I guess that I need to keep in mind that students here on my campus take more care and pride into how many Natty Lights they can put down in one night than what they’re listening to. It seemed that in the past Napster and MySpace were slowly taken over by iTunes, Pandora, and then Spotify swooped in only to have many other companies follow in its footsteps such as iTunes Radio, Google Play, and Beats Music. Personally, I think that Spotify has a strong hold on the music fandom, especially since their recent mobile app became available for free.
Contrary to popular belief, the digital age of music has actually somewhat helped the industry grow. The Hollywood Reporter noted that revenue from downloading and subscription-based services grew to $5.6 billion in 2012, an increase of nine percent. This was also the first time since 1999 that the industry has seen growth.
There’s always a big discussion on whether the artists will ever reap the rewards of the streaming industry. Artists are currently receiving only a fraction of a cent per play. As long as streaming services can create a better model where bands, labels, and them are paid fairly, streaming is the future of music. With piracy on the decline, streaming is bound to continue to grow. Discovering music will soon become more like Pandora, which fine-tuned the whole idea of music suggestions based on taste. Online streaming will make it easier to discover music for those Natty Light-filled ~*bros*~ at my school and everyone else.
For me, I have always lived with the internet so most of my experience with discovering new music has come via the web. When I was young, my brother would burn CDs for me, but most of my life has dealt with streaming services online. What do you guys use to discover or listen music? I can honestly say that I’ve used all different sources such as SoundCloud, Youtube, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes (and iTunes Radio), and other blogs. Take a second to check out the poll below to give your response.