Music Industry – 2020, is there anybody out there?
Downloads vs Streamings, the War is Open
Considering we all live in this current era, most of you already know the differences between downloads and streaming. Rather than repeating known elements, we will focus on studying what is implied by them and how they will impact upcoming years.
Before checking those differences, let analyze specificities brought by downloads. Historically, we have always been exposed to a restricted number of songs. As a result it seemed quite normal to also buy a restricted number of records. Internet destroyed this reality, nowadays, we are exposed to a far greater number of songs from way more artists.
As levels of both discovery and awareness naturally increase, the average consumer has more knowledge than in the past. People never listened to as many music as during the digital era. This trend will accelerate in the future considering 8-12 years old kids listen to over six hours of music per week, over twice as much as during the physicals era. This overall increase in knowledge and culture concluded into a unseen situation: in the US in 2015, for the first time ever, sales of catalog items, e.g. songs and albums over 18 months old, topped sales of new releases. This is true for albums (catalog 122,8 million, new 118,5 million) but also for songs downloads (catalog 484,9 million, new 479,8 million).
Therefore, consumers naturally expect to listen to a large set of songs, they do not want to be limited to a few new releases anymore. That’s the outrageous nonsense of downloads: an open window on the entire music world that requires you to pay for each and every small piece you wanna hear. Streaming solves this anomaly.
Another fundamental difference between both systems is that downloads, although being dematerialized, still require you to own a physical device with the song stored on it to listen to the tune. On your friend’s house, you can’t listen to your playlist unless you spent your precious time in copy and synchronization processes. On that same friend’s house, you barely need to open a web browser and log in into your streaming platform to get all tracks you want and all your saved playlists.
Which advantages downloads provide over streaming? There have been mostly two. The main one was that owning a song enables to listen it despite having no internet connection. This is a key factor has most of the moments favored to listen to music include travelling in car, moving in public transports or during vacations. This problem is mostly solved by paid subscription in streaming platform as most of them provide the capability to download a certain number of songs locally.
The second positive side of downloads is to pay only one time for a specific song. With streaming, even if you listen to zero new music compared to previous month, or even zero music at all during a month you will still pay your monthly fee. This is an issue in theory only yet. As shown with mobile unlimited subscriptions as well as a few years later internet connections of smartphones, once the habit of using such a services is taken the consumer can’t get rid of it anymore, they don’t won’t to lose this service.