Audio Streaming Eclipses Video Streaming

BuzzAngle MidYear Report

In other words, Spotify, et al, beat YouTube, et al. There were 114,226,566,336 audio streams and 95,172,077,123 video streams. Last year there were 54,961,808,648 audio streams and 77,297,473,064 video streams. Audio streams increased by 107.8% and video streams by 23.1%.

But the music industry is still fighting the last war. Focusing on YouTube and the supposed “value gap” when the truth is consumers have moved on to Spotify and Apple Music…because of convenience, because of the social element, that’s where their friends are, because of playlists, because video is a lousy way to listen to music.

I’m not saying that What-A-Mole should not be eliminated, that one takedown notice shouldn’t be enough. I’m just saying that after nearly two decades the music industry and its adherents have not figured out the future, they’re still stuck in the past, somewhere they want to return to which we’ll never inhabit again.

Music on YouTube was a way station. A gap-filler. Spotify wouldn’t launch in the U.S. before all the major labels were on board, which they weren’t for years, as a result YouTube satisfied the demand. But music on YouTube will fade out. Forget about it. The goal of the music industry should be to get everybody paying for Spotify, Apple Music, et al. Instead, the musicians are bitching, saying what people want, Spotify, et al, is junk, and YouTube is the problem. Huh?

We need a free tier, on demand online access, to eviscerate that is to sign your death warrant. Some people will never pay, some are just casual users, don’t leave them out, make them into fans. And believe me, most acts want free on demand, the same way they all paid indie promotion fees in the last century. Without them, you’re nowhere.

But it turns out active users will pay for music. Because not only are they fans, they love the convenience! And if you don’t know that free Spotify is hobbled on the mobile handset, you haven’t used it. But that wouldn’t be new, most people pontificating have never gotten down into the pit to see what’s really going on. You can’t pick and choose on the handset. And the handset dominates, to focus on the desktop is to be left behind, like YouTube, which is a crummy music service on the mobile device.

This is how it always works. People will pay for utility, for convenience and features. Are you really gonna give up your Discover Weekly playlist? Are you really gonna give up being able to hear every track extant and share it easily with a co-subscriber? It’s about lock-in. YouTube has done a horrible, essentially a nonexistent job, with audio lock-in. So it is being passed by. Not hard to understand, since no one there seemed to understand music and be passionate about it.

But they are music believers at Spotify and Apple Music. And the listeners can FEEL this, they want to belong, and this is a good thing!

As for getting paid…

Let’s work on increasing the publisher’s share, which is tough, because it’s gonna come from the label’s share.

And let’s glorify these services, encourage everybody to sign up, not via exclusives on Tidal, but via functionality. Exclusives hurt growth, they cause anger, they muddy the waters, but then again, the music industry can’t get out of its own way, can’t do what’s right for the customer, it’s inured to fighting for an edge, an advantage, making short term money and forgoing the long.

So bitching about YouTube payments is like bitching about desktop computers. They’re both in the rearview mirror.

Don’t fight the last war, look to the future.

And the great thing about Spotify, et al, is even at this late date most people don’t know how they work, they don’t know you can sync tracks for offline use. There’s a lot of highway in front of us, let’s drive down it!

P.S. Scroll down in the report and you’ll see that pop wins. Don’t argue with the facts. The reason you’re not making as much is they don’t want what you’re recording.

P.P.S. Vinyl is for oldsters, for niche. Except for Adele and twenty one pilots, the top ten is dominated by the aged and the deceased. Investing in vinyl is like placing your future in the hands of septuagenarians. Vinyl is a gnat on the ass of streaming. It’s a souvenir. Sell it if you can, but don’t rely on it.

P.P.P.S. Rock is dying. It’s dwarfed by pop, hip-hop and R&B. Rock split into so many sub-genres, many of which are derivative, that it lost touch with the public. Wanna succeed in rock? First and foremost write a hit, something undeniable that crosses over. You don’t get to create a sixty minute album without hooks and expect to get paid beaucoup bucks in the streaming world. Now, more than ever, you lead with the hit.

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