The big news in the music industry this week is the announcement of Apple’s new streaming service, Music. Launching at the end of this month, it will be Apple’s contribution to the already saturated online streaming market, competing with the likes of Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Songza, and Amazon Prime Music.
There has been a lot of chat this week about what Apple’s new venture will mean for the future of music streaming. The existing Apple customer base with a registered credit card will be able to join with one click- which will certainly boost the numbers of people streaming music in general. It may also lower the current costs. Apple Music will cost £6.50/month, as opposed to Spotify and Tidal, who currently both charge £9.99 for their basic packages (aside from Spotify’s free ad-supported streaming).
While lower costs are certainly always desirable for the consumer, it might not be the best option in regards to music streaming. There is a growing demand in the industry for a higher profit margin per stream for the artists, but as the costs go down, the royalties are likely to follow. The most famous example of opposition to the low royalties associated with streaming is when Taylor Swift pulled all of her music from Spotify at the end of last year. Tidal, Jay Z’s latest business venture, was launched in an attempt to give artists an exclusive platform to launch their music, where they also receive more royalties. The main criticism with this approach is that many artists today have little control over how their music is released, so Tidal’s premise is a bit of an empty promise. More than a month after it’s release, it is also not getting much traffic, perfectly illustrated by Spotify’s CEO recently saying, ‘I would say that I have 99 problems but Jay Z is not one of them!’
Only time will tell which of the streaming services will come out on top. Regardless, with online streaming becoming the norm for how we listen to music, the major concern for the industry now is figuring out how to adequately compensate all of the people behind the music, while still making it cost effective for the consumer.