I have always been a fan of music. The first song I can really think of totally being obsessed with was “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper (imagine that). I remember listening to that with my mom over our Chevy Caprice‘s radio. I was just a little kid but I’ll never forget.
Chumbawamba‘s Tubthumper was the first CD I ever owned. Don’t judge me, judge my uncle who chose the album, I was 13 years old. A few years later I would start recording from the radio and eventually use Napster to discover and download new music, later to AudioGalaxy. In high school I became known as the guy to go to for CD compilations.
As I started to concern myself with audio quality, I dropped all the music from file sharing sites like Napster and started replacing the tracks with high quality rips of CDs I’d buy. Later iTunes became my music store of choice with a handful of albums from AmazonMP3. Since then it’s been sort of a non-stop buying spree for me. Or so I thought.
What you see above is the song release timeline of my iTunes Match library. This anecdotal data comes with caveats to consider before we analyze anything.
- This shows only songs I have purchased through legal means
- Only songs and albums matched in iTunes Match are shown
- My iTunes Match library is 27,778 songs strong, my full library is just shy of 40,000 tracks
- iTunes is missing the “Year” for 15% of my iTunes Match library
- Obviously a number of tracks were purchased years after their release
iTunes Match limits libraries to 25,000 tracks. If you want to grow beyond that limit you have to start with a library at or smaller than 25k songs, then slowly add other tracks in. I’m still in the process of doing this and have around 12,000 tracks left. I do not know when or if iTunes will eventually stop accepting tracks, how about you?
With that out of the way, I found the graph pretty interesting. For a period of time, the more money I made and the more available music was to me, the more music I bought.
In this time period, digital music was only available through the purchase of CDs until the year Apple released iTunes and the iTunes Music Store. My music purchases skyrocketed in the early years of the ITMS. But why the drop years later?
- 2005 podcasts take more of my listening time (drop 502)
- 2007 I join Pandora (drop 678)
- 2010 I join Pandora One paid streaming (total drop 326)
- 2011 I join Spotify (drop 274)
When the music industry made it easy for me to buy music, I bought it, and a lot of it! However, as streaming music services started popping up, my purchases dropped dramatically. If this trend continues, as more and others get into the streaming music business, I expect purchases to continue to drop.
Based on my habits, the streaming music industry is killing the traditional music industry. What is good for consumers, in this instance, is not good for artists as streaming services pay oh so very little for each play, see the image to the right. Apple reportedly offered the Industry a streaming payout that is less than 1/3 the industry standard!
This is remarkable. At the peak of my music purchases I was sending approximately $300 to the musicians, after iTunes and record label fees. These days it’s around $90 and dropping.
Maybe my habit of streaming more music is unique. Perhaps the scale of streaming is so big that artists are actually able to make money. But if my habits are representative everyone else, what does this mean for the industry on a whole? Can recording artists and labels exist in a world of streaming when the money just doesn’t seem to be there? How viable is the future of services like Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, Slacker, Last.fm and the rest?
If the record label rejects the current state of streaming revenue, will these services start to cost more? I’m curious as to which industry will break first. I just don’t see how it continue the way it is.
- Streaming kills digital download services like iTunes and AmazonMP3
- Streaming services lose their label partnerships due to lack of revenue
- Wildcards like Amazon, Google & iTunes matching/streaming/purchasing take over
- Brick and mortar music stores… RIP?
What do you think?
- iTunes and Spotify devastate high street music sales as fans go digital
- Revenue Up, Piracy Down: Has the Music Industry Finally Turned a Corner?
- iTunes Accounted For 60 Percent Of Digital Music Revenues In 2012
- A Micropenny for your Thoughts
- The music industry has irreversibly changed – the labels have not