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How Digital Distribution Changed the Music Industry Part 3: The future of music streaming

In the final part of our series, we will look at how technology has made an impact on the music industry and what the future of streaming may look like. The music industry has already had a radical transformation these last 15 years as physical ownership of records is a thing of the past. Today, even having old CDs is considered “vintage.” We are already seeing iTunes being phased out, which was the biggest thing in music 15 years ago. This was caused by streaming services surpassing iTunes buy-to-own model, and generating more revenue with their services. In this final chapter, we will look at how quickly the music industry can be impacted and how societal trends influence how we listen to music.

As of now, streaming sources are the most dominant force in music, but this very well could change in the next few years. With streaming now accounting for 80% of US recorded music revenue, streaming sources have made a name for themselves as a driving force in the music industry, granting user access to over 60 million songs for less than $10 a month. Some believe streaming services have the capabilities to double their music revenue in the next 10 years.

This revenue will not only be increased by new customers but also new technology and the utilization of online networks and social media. Let’s first look at how the introduction of technology and new devices have impacted music distribution. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already made a huge name for themselves in the technological world with tools such as the Alexa and Siri aiding in the realm of how people stream music. These devices give users the opportunity to simply say out loud what they want to listen to and within seconds it is playing throughout your entire home. These devices work with online streaming services to make this happen, granting consumers even more access to stream wherever and whenever they want.

Now we shift to social media’s impact and how not only music executives are using it to their advantage but artists themselves are taking control of their online presence. One of the key factors in how well something does in the music industry is how much access is given to the consumer. Especially fan interaction. A great example of artist-to-fan interaction was the “Fortnite experiment” with Marshmello that occurred last year. More than 10 million fans streamed the DJ’s virtual performance live. This brings us to the newest activity taking over the music industry, live streaming and online interaction. With artists putting on live streams they have the ability to go on when they want and how they want while also catering to fans that may not be able to afford to go to a show. Interaction on social media makes fans feel as though they are friends with their favorite artist. This has extremely been helpful especially when new projects are about to be released and engagement with fans prior is crucial. Fans are the driving force behind the hype of a release and have the power to make it go number one.

Change and transformation is at the center of the music industry today and it will only continue. The music industry will have to stay on top of new trends and what is keeping their consumer engaged. TikTok, for example, was greatly dismissed at the beginning of 2019 by the music and streaming industry. Now in 2020, the application couldn’t be bigger. The explosion of TikTok is proof that trends and what is the next big thing can change in a matter of seconds. With technology and the world's connection to the internet at an all time high, the music industry will continuously have to adapt their services to keep up with what is new and exciting in society. The demand for online content will only grow in the years to come. Lucky for us, we get to decide what way we want to obtain it.

The future of the music industry is really up to us. If we continue to use and enjoy streaming services and offer feedback, they will make adjustments as long as we’re willing to keep paying for them. Throughout this series we have discussed all aspects of transformation the music industry has seen from illegal file sharing, the iTunes store, Spotify, and now how TikTok and online streaming are also making an impact on the way we listen to music. In this digital age, music will always be a money making business, the question is how do you maintain that revenue while keeping your consumer interested. Let us know how you think the music industry will adapt in the next few years, will Spotify and Apple still run streaming? Or will more interactive applications make headway?

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