An Interview With Thumbplay Music CEO Evan Schwartz On Music Streaming And Piracy

image from dailyrindblog.com Recently, I spoke with Evan Schwartz, the CEO and co-Founder of Thumbplay Music. In this interview, Schwartz talks about the challenge of raising awareness for streaming services and their radio feature that will be launched in the new year.

Hypebot: Given the results of your study, do you think compelling music services curve music piracy?

Evan Schwartz: Yes. Music piracy is not going to go away, but we believe there is a large audience who can be moved to a music service like Thumbplay because it is just a better experience than hunting for files, dealing with spyware, fixing metatags and sideloading. With the exception of the price, the P2P user experience is terrible. So then, for us, the key to creating a compelling service is a combination of ease-of-use, deep catalog, portability on smartphones and accessibility on any connected device. We absolutely believe there are tens of millions of people out there who are ready for a better experience that also compensates artists.

Our recent survey backed that up, 70% of respondents reported that they have stopped using P2P services since engaging Thumbplay Music – that’s a good early indicator to me that there’s a shift in how people think about getting their music.

Hypebot: Should raising awareness for music streaming services be a main part of anti-piracy efforts?

Evan Schwartz: This is a great point and one that deserves more attention. A big part of shifting behavior away from piracy is educating consumers about better alternatives. Thumbplay and the other companies in the space will obviously play a role in this through our marketing efforts, but a bigger educational campaign from the entire industry — including labels and artists — could have a real impact.

Hypebot: What challenges do you face in trying to raise awareness among music fans for Thumbplay?

Evan Schwartz: Our first challenge is that the access model for music is still very new to most people. It still requires seeing the service firsthand – and when people do experience it, and they try features like caching on their smartphones, they are immediately sold. I've demo'd our product to friends, family and unsuspecting people on the subway, and after a quick demo, almost all of them really appreciate the value of the service.

Thumbplay’s background in customer acquisition for subscription services gives us a real advantage in terms of finding customers who will be interested in a music service, so our challenge is more around communicating the features and value of the product in the short amount of time you have someone’s attention.

Hypebot: Would having a free on-demand music streaming or radio option help you attract more users?

Evan Schwartz: Glad you asked about radio, we’re launching a really slick version of Thumbplay Radio early in the new year that people are going to love – and it will be both in our mobile apps and in a web-based experience. In terms of a free service, we do offer a free trial today that does not require a credit card. A completely free trial is a must as this is the first on-demand mobile music experience for most people.

An ongoing free component of the service is certainly something we are contemplating, but it needs to make economic sense for us and for the labels. You can build a gigantic audience with free on-demand music, but it is difficult to build a sustainable business.

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  1. The main problem behind piracy (at least in 3rd world countries) is the high price of original content… i mean think about it…
    A guy with little to no money will definitely prefer an album costing few $ rather paying his food money for it!
    THATS something music companies should take in account. And THATS when piracy will actually stop!
    Leora Diamond

  2. I dont think the third world is in the music companies addressable market. People who dollars are debating between food and music are not the problem. The piracy threat is from people who have disposable income to purchase music but opt to pirate instead.

  3. The issue that I see is that the third-world is crammed with brilliant, talented individuals who are highly motivated to ensure that piracy keeps going, because they are priced out of authorized product. (I keep coming back to the Indian college student I used to chat about music with; he had a discretionary income of 15 dollars a month, and that had to include food and transportation.)
    As long as the third world keeps Internet-based piracy going, first-worlders are unlikely to have trouble accessing it.

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