Music Business

As Exclusivity Takes Charge, How Will Music Streaming Change?

3As streaming continues to grow as the dominant form of music consumption, AI powered algorithm-based playlist marketing could be boxing out more niche genres of music and limiting the variety available to listeners.


Guest post by Thomas Steffens, CEO, Primephonic

Streaming has dominated the music world over the last half decade and will continue accelerating in the foreseeable future. In the past year alone, a Deloitte study cites the penetration of music streaming services in a consumer’s media experience increased 58% from last year, with the demand being led by Gen Z and millennials, 60% of which subscribe to a music streaming service.

However, listening to and streaming music specifically is just a portion of the media consumed by the average person. Video and movies make up a large portion of the rest of this consumption, and on average, the U.S. consumer subscribes to three different services for video and movies alone. Because popular shows and movies are tied to specific platforms, consumers have the incentive to subscribe to multiple services. When it comes to music however, this trend differs.

As it stands, the average consumer only subscribes to a single music streaming platform. However, if the industry continues as it has, this won’t last for long. Major players like Spotify and Apple Music are catered towards the average consumer, but they fall short when it comes to listening and discovering music in niche genres like classical and jazz. Among fans of niche genres we see increasing dissatisfaction with major streaming services, as they tend to not cover and serve these genres in a fully satisfying way.

Classical fans, for instance, complain about not being able to (easily) find the recordings they are looking for, insufficient audio quality for the delicate sound of classical and uninteresting, too mainstream recommendations. A substantial part of fans of niche genres would therefore consider a second streaming service if it were to cover unique content.

How Exclusive Can It Get?

Relative to the history of music, we’re living in an incredibly unique time where all music is, theoretically at least, available at the tap of a finger or a basic voice command. However, as exclusivity takes hold, we’re going to see this shift, with a slight feeling of how music has previously been to consumers, but with a streaming spin.

For example, Spotify has recently bought rights to exclusively stream certain podcasts to further build out their platform’s user base. Then there’s TIDAL who has worked with certain artists to secure timed exclusives, meaning an album release may only be available on TIDAL for a certain period of time before streaming on additional platforms.

No major streaming service so far has been able to offer a compelling proposition for every genre, rather we’re going to see more niche services materialize in demand of a better experience. As these services come to fruition, we’re increasingly seeing a new jazz release be exclusive to a jazz platform first, or a new recording of a classical movement exclusive to one of those platforms. 


Experience is Essential

1Providing a quality experience and giving power to the listener ultimately allows for winners on both ends of the spectrum. Although having a large, diverse catalog is most important, other features such as high-quality audio, advanced search, detailed information and intelligent recommendations will keep the listeners loyal to a specific platform. Unique content like artist commentaries, fun facts and podcasts about specific pieces of music will also keep fans engaged on their favorite streaming platform.

Many niche services have begun rolling out these features and the major players in the industry have begun following suit. Artists that elect to provide these types of content are looking for extra visibility and the subscribers care to get content they cannot get elsewhere. Niche streaming services with a lock on a specific genre can create and match ‘demand’ and ‘supply’ on exclusive content.

Exclusive content is therefore not a goal in itself, but one of the differentiators for niche streaming services. The more they are able to determine which exclusive content entices music fans most and the more they are able to convince musicians on the upside of exclusive content, the more these niche streaming services will be able to develop a sustainable position between the big giants that typically fail to address the specific needs of niche genres.

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