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The unstoppable rise of music streaming
There is no doubt that music streaming is a growth area. I myself use Spotify and have done so for a number of years.  This is largely due to the fact that Spotify was born in Sweden, and as such was easily accessible to potential listeners in Western Europe.

I have experienced the evolution of Spotify over the last four years and on the whole have been quite impressed with how the service has matured over that time. It is now available on a host of different platforms from Windows, Mac, IOS and Android to the less well-known ones, such as Sonos, Roku and Boxee.

Integration with Facebook a few years back was an astute and strategically savvy move and signalled their ambition to be the premier streaming music service on the planet.

In December last year they modified the service to make it free on IOS and Android devises, this seems to be a response to the rapidly changing landscape in this still nascent market.

Later this month a potential heavyweight will throw their hat into an already crowded ring to compete with Spotify and many others. That new challenger will be Beats Music from the iconic headphone manufacturer Beats Audio.  In a relatively short time Beats Audio have built a formidable reputation by providing a credible alternative to both the low end, mass market and the high-end audiophile headphone manufactures.  The fact that Iconic Hip-Hop producer Dr Dre is part of the business only adds to its cache with its target demographic.

Likewise, Beats Music aims to differentiate itself from Spotify and  the others by using human curation alongside scientific algorithms to help create user playlists by recommendation. Beats Music already have a number of industry names who know a thing or two about music, in their stable.  Their view is that a real person adds something that a robot can’t. The service will launch on January 21st 2014 in the US at least, there is no word yet on a UK launch.

There is certainly plenty of competition in this market; with the likes of  Rhapsody, iTunes Radio, Rdio, Deezer, Pandora and Youtube subscription to name but a few. This is shaping up to become the new wild west, with no one company yet claiming an unassailable lead.

It all makes me think about how digital technology has effected the very business model of the music industry. When the Internet first went mainstream the music industry had a chance to embrace it as another way to deliver their product without the need for any physical packaging or transport deliveries to outlets. The music industry collectively failed to grasp that opportunity, instead opting to fight against it and tried to hold back the tide of change.

Today they have had to forego their overpriced products and instead have been forced to accept change and allow a plethora of online streaming services and downloads as the way forward.

They have largely been dictated to by the big tech companies, starting with Steve Jobs of Apple, now they have to play by new rules. Even Apple’s idea of selling individual tracks (ownership) looks prehistoric. People now expect to buy access to unlimited music, delivered on multiple devices, ownership is no longer a concern.  The concern now in this brave new world is the royalties paid to the artists.  They are always the last in a long line to get paid in this new paradigm. Let’s hope the arrival of Beats Music signals a change in this respect.

I will certainly be signing up for the service whenever it launches in the UK, there is likely to be a trail period which is free to access the service. One good thing to note is that it will be ad free from the start.  You can find out more by following the Beats Music blog here.

Let me which service you use and your thoughts on it and the other entrants to the market.

Update: March 24 2014

As suggested in my post;  7 ways a streaming iTunes could compete with Spotify and its rivals http://gu.com/p/3nnhk/tw  

Update: March 27 2014 

Twitter has revised their music offering to concentrate on the conversations people have around music.

New Music Strategy To Focus On Conversations, Partnerships http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/27/twitters-sophomore-album-new-music-strategy-to-focus-on-conversations-partnerships/?ncid=twittersocialshare …