Exclusive content is going to kill the streaming industry, then again, maybe it won’t. It all depends on the type of exclusive content streaming platforms offer and from the looks of it, exclusive content is going to kill the streaming industry. There are so many great possibilities with exclusive content:
Weekly live streamed performances for subscribers
Live fan interviews with their favorite artists
Stream to own option
Unfortunately streaming platforms don’t seem willing to adopt these options. Instead they’ve chosen to take the easiest road possible, offering exclusive releases. These releases are being made available exclusively for paid subscribers. This effectively puts music behind a pay wall returning the music industry to the glory days when if you wanted to hear an album you had to buy it. The difference being with a subscription you get access to way more albums than the one you paid for.
You know what happened the last time music was behind a pay wall and people had to buy to listen? Rampant illegal file sharing, that’s what. Consider this, the main point of Spotify was to create a way for artists to profit from illegal downloads. Someone with a collection of illegally downloaded songs could sync their music library with Spotify, when they streamed those songs the artist would earn royalties effectively turning an illegal downloader into a revenue stream for artists.
When someone paying $10 a month to Spotify can’t find an album because it’s exclusively on Tidal which doesn’t have albums that are exclusively on Spotify, or a Tidal subscriber paying $20 a month can’t find albums that are exclusively on Beats which doesn’t have albums that are on Spotify and Tidal; what’s going to happen? Are they going to just keep switching from one service to another? No! Here’s what’s going to happen:
Illegal Downloading – We have the oldie but goody file sharing sites like Rapidshare, etc. Torrent sites like Kickasstorrents, etc. but in today’s technological world we also have NFC (Near frequency communication). One kid can stand in a room and beam an album from his phone to the phones of all of his friends. We have digital lockers like Google Drive and Dropbox where someone could just pass a private link around for their friends to download. We have email accounts with enough storage capacity for someone to create a zip file of an album and send it to their friends. People can Download albums from the inevitable unauthorized Youtube uploads before they get taken down.
Popcorn Time – Popcorn Time is a Desktop client that allows users to stream torrents of movies in HD like Netflix, but free, by using sequential downloading with data encryption to block your activity from the FEDS. In one year it has exploded in popularity going from a desktop client to a mobile app. What drives the success of Popcorn Time is the frustration of Netflix and Hulu Plus subscribers at their inability to find certain movies on either platform because of licensing restrictions. I mean last year Coming to America nor The Five Heartbeats were available on Netflix for stream, like really? The movies I’d search for and find I could only watch if I ordered on DVD were staggering and resulted in me canceling my subscription. Inevitably there will be similar apps created for music. Exclusives are going to leave a gaping hole in the market and some new technology like Popcorn Time is going to fill it.
The benefit of streaming, in addition to free music, was being able to carry your entire music library with you at all times, without being concerned with having to delete apps off your device to accommodate them. Illegal downloading doesn’t solve that problem and since certain albums won’t be on certain streaming platforms you won’t be able to sync your library but, you know, this is the Internet we’re talking about here.
Have a collection of illegally downloaded albums stored in a folder in Dropbox? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to stream those files on your mobile device? How about trying Cloud Beats, Tunebox, or Droptunes, all of which allows you to stream your music library from your mobile device. As a bonus, we’ll even throw in offline access.
What if the people that will buy your music do and the people that won’t buy your music don’t? What if putting music behind a pay wall doesn’t result in a rise in record sales or streaming subscriptions but a fall in revenue overall?
Oh, and can we give it up to the true winners of the age of exclusive releases for stream, Pandora! Clap it up for them ladies and gentlemen.