A survey published today by a UK music industry body throws cold water on the idea that streaming services like Spotify and We7 are the future of music consumption. UK Music’s study into the ways young people aged 14 to 24 consume music holds some interesting revelations.
Respondents said they wanted to own, not stream, their music. While 61% admitted to illegally downloading music, 85% of those illegal downloaders said they would be interested in paying for an unlimited, ‘all-you-can-eat’ download service. Conversely, 78% of respondents stated that they would not pay for an online music streaming service.
This is great news for subscription services like Microsoft’s Zune Pass that allow for unlimited downloads. It’s also bad news for services like Spotify that aim to get users to subscribe to a premium streaming service but never give them the option of actually owning MP3s.
Ironically, in the UK, where this survey was carried out, streaming services are currently more popular than subscription services. This is a reminder that while young people are still an important market, they’re no longer quite as critical as they used to be. Older people are buying more music than ever before – just witness the phenomenon of ‘£50 Man’ and ‘£8.93 Woman’ for evidence that it’s not just kids buying music in large amounts any more.
There are enough music buyers out there to make a success of lots of different digital music business models. There’s no reason why traditional download stores like iTunes, subscription download services and streaming services can’t all succeed. Different types of music fans will use different services.
The big surprise, though, is that it’s young people who want to ‘own’ their music and value a physical product. That flies in the face of all conventional modern wisdom, which states that young people just want to steal MP3s to play at maximum volume on their mobile phone speakers at the back of the bus. It’s refreshing to hear that the truth is a lot more complex. You can download the full, fascinating report from here.