Netflix Needs Music, But Music Is Fine Without It
After a lengthy amount of time atop the streaming roost, Netflix now faces a serious threat from its competitors, and is hoping that investing in the music industry by creating things like original docs, it can stay at the head of the pack. That said, Netflix will need to act quickly, as competitors like Amazon and Hulu have been making similar moves.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
The streaming wars are upon us, and Netflix needs to take action before a competitor steals one of the biggest niche audiences.
After years of streaming domination, Netflix finds itself in a war for subscriptions, and music may have the answer.
Netflix is at a crossroads. For more than a decade, the entertainment company has reigned supreme over the world of film and television. Specifically, Netflix has been the leader in streaming content for longer than virtually any of its competitors have existed, but that may soon change. A new crop of streaming platforms are rising, with many owned or largely controlled by the companies that once relied on Netflix to stream its content online.
A quick Google search for new streaming platforms will shed more light on the state of video in 2019. In addition to Hulu and Amazon Prime, which have been gaining ground on Netflix for years, Disney, Warner Bros, DC Comics, Apple, and more have or are preparing streaming platforms of their own. Disney’s product, Disney+, will offer every Marvel movie, Star Wars Film, and Disney original for less than the current cost of a monthly subscription to Netflix. The house that Mickey Mouse built will also pull all its content from Netflix when the platform launches, which is likely what all the other studios will do when their services go live in the months and years to come as well.
That impending change has put more pressure on Netflix to create original content that justifies its rising cost and shrinking library. The company has invested millions into original series with mixed results, but it has found a lot of success through its embrace of stand up comedy. Be it Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, or Joe Rogan, the biggest names in comedy have made Netflix their home, and the company has reaped the benefits of having fans of the art form flock to the platform for fresh content weekly.
Netflix may find similar success through music. After leaving the music industry mostly untouched for the last several years, Netflix made waves in the industry by releasing Taylor Swift’s concert film for her Reputation stadium tour and Springsteen On Broadwayat the end of 2018. That release was followed in April with the debut of Beyonce’s Homecoming concert film documenting her now legendary performance at Coachella. Both films were exclusive to Netflix, and each made it possible for millions of fans around the world to witness events they otherwise could not see.
This month, Netflix has taken its relationship with music further by releasing a Martin Scorsese documentary on Bob Dylan and announcing the exclusive premiere of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s new short film. That latter is particularly exciting because it is intended to pair with Yorke’s new solo album, which means Netflix is playing an active role in supporting new music rather than celebrating things that have already happened.
Where Netflix goes from here with music is up in the air, but the company would be wise to continue investing in and aligning itself with musical talent. The live entertainment industry is booming, but no consumer is able to see everything or even a fraction of everything they want to see in a given year. Netflix has the ability to support artists while also helping them engage with fans who otherwise cannot see them live or get to know them behind-the-scenes.
That said, Netflix needs to hurry if they want to claim reign over music as they have the world of comedy. Amazon Prime released an original film from Donald Glover, otherwise known as Childish Gambino, earlier this year. Amazon also released a Jonas Brothers documentary days before the group’s recent album, Happiness Begins, hit stores. Apple has not announced any music projects for their upcoming video streaming service, but it’s not hard to imagine the exclusive video content made for Apple Music will also appear on that platform.
James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.