Data To Date: The Rapid Rise Of Social And Streaming

Next Big Sound has released a fascinating industry report on the current state of social media and streaming:

Streaming is fast becoming the primary way we consume music, whether that be through the more interactive on-demand services, algorithmically-driven lean-back experiences, the increasingly popular format of human curation and playlists (think Beats One radio or Spotify’s discovery feature), or some combination of the above.

What really blew our minds when tallying these totals was that the number of online plays in just the first six months of the year far exceeds what we tracked in all of 2014, even before the addition of Pandora’s data. Let’s take a moment to consider what impact this could have on the music industry at large. For musicians, their piece of the streaming pie will only continue to grow.

It would seem streaming is here to stay. Is this the final step in the format wars? I mean, what could possibly come after streaming as a music delivery format? Honestly, I’m sort of open to the idea of a combination of streaming, downloads (if you gotta have it), and vinyl or deluxe physical packages as our musical diet from here on out.

The Next Big Sound report also has some news about SoundCloud that would normally be encouraging for them. Instead, it will probably just add to the pressure they are receiving from the majors:

SoundCloud’s play counts continue to climb at a steady rate year over year. Next Big Sound tracked close to 5 billion plays on the service in May 2015, which is twice that of the same month a year before, and five-fold the year prior. At the same time, unless you’re living under said rock, you know that the social streaming service has long been in ongoing negotiations with labels for direct licensing deals, reportedly with the intention of launching a subscription service.

If slow and steady wins the race, SoundCloud could plausibly compete with more mainstream platforms such as Spotify or Rdio. However, SoundCloud provides a valuable niche service in that it is optimized for content such as mix tapes and DJ sets. If striking direct deals with rights holders – integral to legitimizing the service and monetizing content – means they are essentially strong-armed into charging users for a service they were once offered at no cost, they’ll want to see that growth rate remain as stable as it has been.

I sincerely wish them the best of luck with that.

There’s some further dissection of Next Big Sound’s report from Forbes:

You read that right: one trillion streams. That’s the number tracked by Next Big Sound in the first half of 2015 across YouTube, Vevo, Spotify, Rdio, SoundCloud, Vimeo and Pandora. In other words, the average Earthling has streamed more than 140 songs over the past six months. There should be no doubt not only that streaming is here to stay, but that it offers the music industry a level of reach never previously seen in human history.

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