With the rise of the Internet of Things and the increasing connectivity of smart home technologies, the way in which the industry operates in relation to consumers is changing, as music streaming and discovery become increasingly integrated into homes.
Guest post by Beth Kotz
The steady march of progress through technology has radically altered the way many industries operate, and perhaps nowhere is that effect more evident than in the music industry. The movement toward digital media has changed everything from the way music is produced to the way it is discovered, purchased and consumed by listeners.
Now, the Internet of Things, and in particular the rise of interconnected “smart” home technology, promises to once again revolutionize the way the music industry operates and engages with consumers. Rather than being tethered to a PC or laptop, listeners equipped with smart tech can now discover and stream music seamlessly throughout their homes.
The Streaming Revolution
In the not-too-distant past, listeners needed to venture out to the store and purchase a CD in order to enjoy their favorite music. Word-of-mouth recommendations, television and radio were the most common ways to discover new music. With the explosion of streaming, however, a vast universe of music is now placed at users' fingertips for instant, affordable listening. In fact, 2015 marked the first year in which sales from digital sources - a large portion of which is composed of streaming platforms - surpassed physical media in terms of total revenue. Music discovery, too, has become quicker and more convenient thanks to automated software platforms that combine streaming and advanced algorithms to help listeners find new music to enjoy.
Streaming Goes Smart
For many consumers, music is an integral part of daily life. Most music streaming today takes place on phones and other mobile devices, but many top tech companies, including Google and Amazon, are gambling that smart technology can bring music back to the home in a big way.
Home automation hardware can build whole-home sound systems capable of bringing streaming music to every room in the house, with wireless speakers connecting to central hubs and empowering users to play and share music from a variety of devices. To complete the package, digital assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google Home are often paired with discounted streaming subscriptions and music discovery platforms to create simple, all-in-one home music solutions that function much like a high-tech, 21st-century answer to the radio. Amazon, in its bid to become a “one-stop shop” in line with rivals like Google, is now preparing to launch a standalone music streaming subscription service. “A music service will further increase the daily interactions between Amazon and its customer base,” said former music executive Jay Samit in a recent Guardian feature.
Catering to Convenience
In the fully-equipped modern smart home, music is never more than a few touches or voice commands away. Request a song in the presence of the Amazon Echo, for instance, and the artificially intelligent software within can have it blasting out of speakers throughout the home in a matter of seconds. Smart devices offer far more than that, too. Many digital assistants can now lend a helping hand with finding and identifying songs, even if the user can only manage to recall a few lyrics or a basic melody. Alternatively, users can simply request music and let software algorithms search for and identify songs they're likely to enjoy based on things like listening history and internet searches. To further customize the listening experience, many smart devices also allow precise control over where and when music is played, including independent controls for each room.
At its best, music is an exceedingly personal and individual experience. New home automation technology provides the tools for users to enjoy their music on their own terms like never before, discovering and accessing millions of songs and playing them from the palm of their hand or the seat of their armchair. Those who make music also stand to benefit from this paradigm shift, as smart devices and streaming and discovery platforms offer an assortment of powerful ways to get music out in the world and into new listeners' ears. The future remains a work in progress, as streaming continues to propel digital music growth into 2017. But with this new technology comes a new understanding of how music makes meaning for each individual listener, revealing opportunities for enterprise within the music industry and its supporting fields.