If you haven’t used a streaming music service like Spotify or Rdio yet, you’re missing out on where music consumption is heading. The industry is shifting, just like it did at the turn of the century when recording artists had to come to grips with the fact that people weren’t buying complete albums and getting singles – either through Napster and eventually through more legitimate channels like iTunes.
Now a decade into the digital music age, people are moving away from the “ownership paradigm”, where instead of being limited to the songs on your iPod, you can just pay a flat fee or stream whatever you want. When Pandora first came around, people became happy with having new music to stream – now with services like Spotify you can go a step further and choose a specific song or album. Personally I’ve come around to this. Those who know me personally can attest to the level of effort I’ve put towards developing my personal collection, but even I find the appeal in the ability to have any song stream straight to my phone any time I want.
Just like a decade ago, when we had artists who refused to join us in the 21st century (Metallica), you know have artists that are kicking and screaming their way into the streaming era: Coldplay and Adele, who feel that their new albums are too good to simply be streamed. They can hide behind the notion that their album should be experienced in a certain format or fidelity, but this boils down to one of two things: greed or ignorance. They think that people should pay more for new music – not unlike how the movie industry is delusional enough to think people are happy to pay full price for a new release rather than rent it. For their sake, I hope they’re just being ignorant about where the music industry is going and won’t deal with the vitriol people still hold for Metallica.
Adele and Coldplay are kidding themselves if they think the purchase model is competing with streaming models. The people who don’t purchase their music will do one of two things: steal it or worse – not even listen to it. In terms of music discovery, people will continue to turn away from the radio and use these streaming services to find something new. Musicians need to temporarily take themselves out of the “artist” shoes and place their feet in the entrepreneurial shoes. More and more, recorded music is transitioning from being a product and more towards being a marketing tool to get fans further engaged. As an entrepreneur, you need to be where your consumers are – and if you’re consciously choosing not to be where people are, they’ll either resent you or ignore you.