Spotify. Apple Music. Pandora. These and other streaming services are among the biggest names in the music industry. Forget about the days when you and your best friend used to trudge to the local mall and snag the latest Prince CD. If you’re listening to music nowadays, you’re streaming it. Chances are likely that you rarely buy even digital music these days. And you’re not alone. It’s time to face the facts. Streaming is the new frontier for the music industry. And digital music, to say the least about CDs and other physical musical mediums, is on the way out.
We’re Buying Less Music
Between 2013 and 2014, sales of digital downloads went down 13% according to a 2014 Nielsen review. Around the same time, streaming grew by about 54%. Two years later, the trend continues. We’re buying less music, especially online, and we’re streaming more. With so many avenues to stream music and when you consider how convenient streaming music can be, the fact of the matter is that buying digital music almost feels redundant. For approximately the same price of a music album, subscribers can gain access to the entire libraries of services like Spotify and Apple Music. In many cases, subscribers can download offline copies of their favorite songs, all included with the price of a regular subscription.
When We Do Buy Music, We Buy Records
One of the least expected trends to pop up in the last couple years is the now thriving record industry. Sales of records have gone up over the past couple years. You can consider hipsters but the reality might have less to do with the barista at your local, independent coffee shop and more to do with human nature and pure nostalgia. Digital downloads, much as they were once heralded as the next big frontier in the music industry, aren’t tangible. Records, on the other hand, neatly tie together both nostalgia and a tangible product all in one neat package. For people who buy records, they swear that the sound quality they offer is better than a CD. And it’s hard to deny the aesthetic appeal of pulling a record out of a sleeve.
We All Hate iTunes
When reports first came in that people were losing tracks off of iTunes and that Apple Music was synching the incorrect versions of popular songs, it’s hard to say that anyone was truly surprised. After all, you can’t swing a bricked iPhone without hitting an op-ed about how bad iTunes sucks and how iTunes could improve. It’s not hard to imagine that people, growing tired of going through iTunes for the majority of their purchases, would find comfort in using streaming services. Even when considering that many of these same users may be using Apple Music as opposed to using an alternative streaming service all together, just avoiding purchasing music through iTunes is motivation enough to switch to Apple Music. Dealing with iTunes without a true, mainstream alternative (besides Google Play) leaves many music lovers out in the cold, unwilling and unable to build a healthy digital music collection. Streaming, on the other hand, while it has its downsides, at least allows users to avoid many of the pratfalls associated with organizing a music library: users won’t have to worry about losing beloved tracks nor have to manage the constantly shifting landscape of iTunes or other music organization systems’ layouts.
While it remains to be seen whether these trends hold true in the coming years, it’s clear that streaming will quickly outpace digital sales. And it’s a trend that no one’s particularly sad to see come about, at least if the increasing number of Spotify and Apple Music subscribers has anything to say about it.
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