The Year Streams Became Supreme
2016 showed the music industry that streaming is next up on the horizon to change the way music listeners consume music. 2017 was the year that this notion was consecrated. The Grammys was probably the first biggest event to show just how powerful streaming has become, especially with Chance the Rapper winning best new artist. Chance, probably the biggest independent rapper to date, was only eligible for nomination due to the Grammys updating the rules allowing for streaming-only albums to be included in nominations.
Music consumption via streaming continues to trend up. According to the RIAA (the Recording Industry Association of America) revenues from streaming services account for 62 percent of total market share. Even though digital downloads were down, streaming services were up 48 percent across all categories of streaming—which was a record high. Industry analysts believe that this trend could be in part to streaming not being limited anymore to just smartphones and laptops, but now available on devices such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Sonos to name a few.
Although 2017 was a great year for streaming, not all streaming services walked away with major trophies. It was a rough year for streaming giants: SoundCloud, Tidal and Pandora. SoundCloud unfortunately laid off 40 percent of its employee and struggled to stay afloat as a company altogether. New CEO Kerry Trainor restructured the platforms experience to focus more on creators making mild adjustments to stats and revamping the homepage. Pandora witnessed their CEO Tim Westergren step down and introduced a Premium subscription service that barely got 150,000 paying subscribers over the first 3 months. Finally, Tidal has had issues with building consistent membership growth resulting in the company only having about six months of working capital left.
All in all, streaming has changed the face of the music industry and has provided learning opportunities for most involved. According to a recent Goldman Sachs report, streaming will grow the recorded music industry to a $41 billion business by 2030. The music industry has not seen this type of trajectory since the 90s. 2018 looks bright for those who have mastered the thought that stream is supreme.