Full Stream Ahead

So, ever since Al Gore “invented the internet”, we’ve moved about our careers with something of a real or imagined dark cloud (pardon the digital storage pun) overhead, signifying the end of record biz revenue. Well, Heraclitus was on to something with that whole “There’s nothing so constant as change” thing.

Reports flooding in of late show a far less bleak future, and a booming one perhaps for the likes of the digital world. Spotify and Apple have been in a healthy neck and neck race for world domination, while Citigroup has released something of a stealth white paper report delving into the world of music rights and revenue. An RIAA spokesperson recently told Billboard “We welcome investment community interest in the music business, but it’s unfortunate that some of the methodologies and analysis within this report are incorrect or incomplete…”  The exhaustive 88-page undertaking is cleverly named, if daunting: “PUTTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER Remastering the World of Music.”

Confident predictions counter current data by claiming that streaming will plateau, while live music and artist-steered DIY approaches will reign.  They predict too that platforms will consolidate, and blockchain will assert itself and its transparency further.

Meanwhile, the statistical meat of the matter is, according to Nielsen Music’s latest half way point report, this year’s U.S. market shows streaming’s, well, booming. There were 403.4bn total music streams in the States in the six months to end of June, up 41.6%.   41.6%!  There were stream increases across both audio and video platforms.  For those keep score, by the way, it’s Post Malone who boasts the United States’ biggest sales across all formats these last six months, per Nielsen/Billboard.

For the nitty gritty perspective, the leap from last year to this is in increase in streaming volume 118 billion plays. Yes, billion.  From 295 billion in 2017 to 403 billion in 2018.  And just to bring us earthward regarding physical music consumption, physical album sales in the U.S. fell 14.6%….although, vinyl is still experiencing its resurgence, with an increase of 19.2%.  And of course, representative of the digital Rent-A-Center way of life we now call normal, as streaming increases, digital sales continue to decrease.

Predictors assert that Spotify’s stock value could, if the course remains as it is, multiply itself within the next 5-10 years.

As the great George Carlin said, “…That’s all you need in life…a little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is:  a place to keep your stuff.   If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house.  You could just walk around all the time…”

Despite my now paying Spotify and Amazon to rent a near infinite amount of music annually, my sentimental nature keeps me tethered to shelves of CD’s, vinyl, cassettes, reel to reels, not yet able to repurpose that real estate. But perhaps, I’ll rent some additional space from Spotify….

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