Exclusive Content Hurting Streaming Services

Ashley Carman for The Verge:


"Streaming services have been massively successful… Forty million people are paying to stream music instead of pirating it is a big win for musicians. But it’s becoming more and more difficult for users to live with a single subscription. Rampant piracy could make a comeback, solely because streaming service exclusives, and complete artist opt-outs, make it impossible to get all music in one place."


With the record label business model still around, streaming was bound to hit this snag. I mentioned this being a problem before - now it seems to be getting worse:


"This week, Drake dropped two new singles off his upcoming album Views from the 6. The tracks are currently only available on Apple Music. Last month, Kanye West released his newest album The Life of Pablo on Tidal only. It came to Spotify this month after an estimated 500,000 people had already torrented it."


…and the list goes on. The sad thing is that no one service or company can solve the problem as long as record labels have their way. Artists themselves dictating where they want their music made available makes this even messier for the consumer.

Torrenting is made the enemy here, but the industry also has an enemy (and, to an extent, an ally) in YouTube, another beneficiary from Spotify and Apple Music failing. They’re not officially a streaming service, but I wouldn’t be surprised if YouTube had more plays on music and music videos than Spotify and Apple Music combined. I think the difference maker here is the huge revenue YouTube receives and will continue to receive from ads, and the copyright laws not being as stringent partially because of that. (As big as YouTube is now, think about the percent of views attributed solely to music streaming.)

While beneficial for labels through various modes of partnership with YouTube (Vevo being one of them), smaller/independent artists with much less power are affected negatively. Not much is stopping a random fan from uploading albums onto YouTube in their entirety and them staying up there for a long time, potentially taking away revenue from artists.

On a somewhat related note, Apple’s confirmed to have an original series under production about app development, with will.i.am as its host. It could be a glimpse of what’s to come, and if it is, I think it’s a little sad that it would come to Apple jumping onto the exclusive content bandwagon. Luckily people seem to be more willing to subscribe to various services to get the serial TV content they want, but I think subscribing to multiple services for music will be too much to handle for most people, especially with torrenting and YouTube around.

(Via The Verge)


Further reading: More on YouTube’s abysmal copyright/fair use system.