Five Factors That Will Influence the Growth of Streaming Music in 2012

Categories: Music Bidness

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We all know that in December of 2012, the Mayan calendar ends as will the world, but before that fateful day, I've got a lot of music to listen to and, like many, I seem to be doing that increasingly on my computer and via streaming music services.

Whether it is Pandora or Grooveshark or Last.FM or Spotify, there are plenty of choices available. None of them seem to be turning any sort of substantial profits and there are still all sorts of hurdles to be negotiated, but it seems quite clear that streaming via subscription, something many thought would never catch on, is the wave of the future, but is the future now? Maybe.

When it comes to streaming music, there are five key factors that will impact its growth in the coming year.

5. Learning Curve

My mom told me over Christmas that she has been using Spotify with regularity lately and has been on Pandora for well over a year. That bodes well for those services and for streaming in general. The easier these services are to use, the more the average person will try them out. And, as much as music snobs want to believe that this is purely their domain, without the general public listening, none of them have a legitimate shot at survival.

4. Legal Issues

Grooveshark and others are facing challenges from the music industry and, if the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) manages to pass, potentially from Congress. In order for start ups to have a shot a success, they will need to spend their time improving their offerings, not wrangling in court. At some point, the legal system will need to address, in more broad terms, the legality of these services and find a way to make them profitable while compensating artists. I'm afraid we are still a ways off from that.

3. Bandwidth

As more music is streamed, more space will need to be made available for all that music. Fortunately, cloud services like iCloud and others are beginning to make access to all your music -- and the music of others -- a much easier process. The further development of cloud storage of music will have a huge impact on streaming in 2012.

2. Consolidation

As much as many people hate the consolidation of power -- and as much as it can ruin very good things -- there needs to be some coming together in the new year to ensure protection from even larger entities. Small companies like Jango or Pandora could greatly benefit from the support of Google, AOL and Apple in the fight to make more music available online, even as they compete with them.

1. Access and Integration

The day that streaming music is easily accessible in the car is the day that it becomes a modern day version of the radio. The car literally spawned the radio boom and getting streaming services integrated into modern automobile technology could spark a similar explosion among streaming services. Finally, someone has got to find a way to break the logjam with Facebook. The first service that truly adds music to the Facebook experience will change the game for everyone else.

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9 comments
George Hartline
George Hartline

NICE work Jeff...found this article googling "Jango breaks new artist" . This has got to be THE hot topic right now in the music industry...let's hope that the internet will finally liberate music from the corporate prison it's in.ps: check out my band (George Hartline and the Harmless Doves)-we're on Last.fm and JANGO (which I prefer), among all of the other usual spots online.

RevRexJames
RevRexJames

Spotify seems to have come closest to Facebook integration point made at end of article, with automatically jacking news feed to share with all your friends what you are listening to (perhaps it can be turned off, I never integrated two). For the US, you can't even create a new Spotify account now without integrating with your FB account last I heard (maybe you are able to avoid this with a premium membership).

Jessica
Jessica

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Jsdub525
Jsdub525

ICloud, google music , etc are great in the car. The problem is when service providers like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T limit their "Unlimited Data" by throttling it if used excessively. Which isn't very excessive if you do a lot of streaming.

Jim Porter
Jim Porter

Turntable.fm has been the most fun AND the most effective at exposing me to cool new stuff, and the quick links to the Amazonmp3 marketplace have led to many impulse buys. If they ever really integrate with Facebook, I think that would be the killer app.

Jeff
Jeff

It is getting more tightly integrated, but it's not quite there. When it is seamless, then things will really blow up.

Jeff
Jeff

Yeah, exactly. That is one of the big issues. Also, these services and other technology need to be more tightly integrated into the car's basic stereo systems. My mom will listen to Spotify in the house, but she still is uncomfortable connecting her phone, switching to aux, etc. 

I know some cars have all sorts of technology in them. That stuff needs to be more standardized so it isn't just in the most expensive package of add ons.

RevRexJames
RevRexJames

Turntable.fm is a fun site, way too addicting and had to stop using it. Wouldn't really consider a streaming site along lines of Spotify, and curious how much money they make from sales as you've mentioned.  Been awhile since I've used it, though don't you need to be friends with someone on Facebook before you can use it?

Jim Porter
Jim Porter

Used to be you needed to have 5 (or 3 or some odd number) Facebook friends already on the service in order to get in. I'm pretty sure they dropped that requirement a couple of months ago. You do still need to sign in using your Facebook (or Twitter) credentials, though.

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