Spotify and the Music Streaming Industry

By: Sydney Wall and Drew Pearson

Music streaming apps such as Spotify, Soundcloud, and Apple Music, have recently become a popular way to access music. Many people have the apps on their phones, tablets, computers, and more.

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Music streaming has been around for the past decade but has only become popular in the past few years. Spotify was founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon of Stockholm, Sweden. They “officially launched the company in 2008 and have since made over 30 million tracks available to users.” After gaining popularity in Europe, Spotify launched in the United States in 2011. With Spotify, users can stream music live rather than downloading it first. Spotify is available for use on a variety of technologies including “smartphones, tablets, PCs, and even television-connected set top boxes (including gaming consoles).” Spotify has become accessible in over 58 countries around the world. Here are some statistics found on expandedramblings.com: Spotify has over 100 million users (compared to Apple Music’s 15 million users), 40 million paid subscribers, over 30 million songs, over 20,00 songs added per day, Spotify is projected to reach 100 million paying subscribers by 2020, and the average number of hours’ users listen to Spotify is 1.7 billion hours.

Number of paying Spotify subscribers worldwide from July 2010 to September 2016 (in millions)

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These music streaming resources have replaced other sources of media such as the radio, cd’s, records, and even iTunes. People have even stopped listening to the ratio stations in their cars and opt to use an aux cord to utilize these music streaming apps. Many music listeners have stopped buying songs on iTunes and instead listen to them for free. Some streaming outlets are free while others have a small monthly fee.

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Music streaming has reshaped social life and changed the use of older media because it is now easier to find and share music, it helps musicians to grow, it is available on the go, and it has become another form of so called social media. On Spotify, people can create playlists and share it with their friends who can listen to it on their own devices. Aspiring musicians post their material on Soundcloud and hope to grow their fanbase.

Although Spotify has revolutionized the music streaming industry, many artists like Taylor Swift, withheld their music from the company claiming that they do not receive enough profit and the service is responsible for a decline in album sales (Swanson). According to Gillian Ezra, head of African operations at Deezer, another music streaming service, Millennials’ transition to streaming is due to the desire for access rather than ownership. He says, “It’s about access to the way you want it, when you want it. It’s instant gratification at its best…Streaming offers all the music you want, as you want it, with no need to pay for each track. It’s easy and convenient, so it appeals to this market,” (The Sunday Independent-South Africa). In 2009, Michael Learmonth predicted that Spotify would give Apple a run for its money. People would much rather pay a monthly fee for Spotify and have unlimited access to all music, than paying for songs individually on iTunes. Spotify is like “having the convenience of iTunes without the need to buy or download individual files-and you choose from pretty much all the music in the world, all the time,” (Learmonth).

Music streaming systems allow users to experience a broader variety of music. They can listen to any genre of music they wish, and do not have to contemplate whether or not they should buy a song. On iTunes, users have to buy songs individually or by the album, which makes it harder for people to experience new music because they probably will not buy a song that they don’t know. Music streaming extends our senses because we can make our own playlists of various songs and share them with the world instead of making a playlist on a tape and only sharing it with a few people. Friends can connect and bond through music due to the fact that Spotify allows your friends to see what songs you are listening to from their account.

Music streaming has replaced older media such as CDs and even iTunes. To me, an avid Spotify fan, iTunes is outdated. I think that music streaming is the way of today. I predict than in less than ten years, it will be immensely more popular than iTunes. With how many songs are available today, who knows how many might be available in 5 years? The music industry is constantly and rapidly changing and soon it will be hard to keep up. Music streaming has transformed the music industry and has changed the way we listen to songs and artists we love.

“Age of Instant Gratification.” The Sunday Independent [South Africa] 14 Aug. 2016, E1 ed., LIFE; Pg. 7 sec.: n. pag. Print.

Learmonth, Michael. “Did Apple Sacrifice ITunes with Latest Apps?” 80.31 (2009): n. pag. Communications & Mass Media Complete. Web. 28 Jan. 2017

Swanson, Kate. “A case study on Spotify: exploring perceptions of the music streaming service.” MEIEA Journal, vol. 13, no. 1, 2013, p. 207+. Academic OneFile, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=loyoland_main&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA356143089&asid=cb8bfd36c6eb21d9dc0a100fbe942b45. Accessed 28 Jan. 2017.

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