Monday 22 September 2014

Online Stores Are On My Back

Or at least they will be soon.

[Inspired by: TechCrunch]

Let me set the scene:
The music industry is dying again. This month the UK saw the lowest weekly album sales in 19 years. Hold on, didn't the value of the UK music industry grow by 9% YOY in 2013?! The bottom line is, no one really knows what's going on but as a precaution we should all probably try and save this maybe-it's-dying/maybe-it's-not industry. To do so, digital music stores might have just found the key.

TechCrunch draw some interesting comparisons between music and film
The TV and film industry is booming, anyone can see that. So why is the music industry, which is just as accessible, losing financial momentum? Philip Inghelbrecht for TechCrunch claims that it's all down to windowing. When it comes to films windowing works by films being available firstly in the cinema, then maybe exclusive to iTunes/Netflix before finally receiving a general release on DVD and Blu-Ray. For Inghelbrecht, following the windowing path with music is possibly the answer to at least some of our problems.

The revolution has started and you didn't even notice
In my opinion, revolutionary numero uno was Beyonce(/the illuminati). There we all were, December 2013, an ordinary Friday morning. WHAT? BEYONCE'S RELEASED A SURPRISE ALBUM OVERNIGHT THAT NOBODY KNEW ABOUT CONSISTING OF A BILLION TRACKS THAT ARE ALL ACCOMPANIED BY THEIR OWN MUSIC VIDEOS?! Oh... but it's only available on iTunes and if I do want to buy it I need to buy the whole shebang? Beyonce's self-titled fifth album was exclusive to iTunes for a week and during that time was only available to purchase as a full album. Naturally it became their fastest-selling album of "all time". Beyonce was followed by undoubtedly the most talked about album of the month, U2's 'Songs of Innocence'. This time, the understated masterpiece (just kidding, I haven't heard it yet and probably never will) isn't available physically or on any other digital stores until 14th October! This leaves die-hard U2 fans no choice but to succumb to the mighty powers of the iTunes store to legitimately get their hands on a copy.

So what's next?
Last week Alt-J released their second album 'This Is All Yours' exclusively to stream on Spotify before being available in all other stores today (22nd September). The cunning group then made four album tracks available on iTunes and unsurprisingly they bombarded the UK iTunes chart top five after only a few hours. Whilst Alt-J are fannying about with those two major stores, over at Google Play there are some pretty crazy deals going on. Until the end of September, Google Play are practically giving away major chart albums for £2 or less. Artists in what can only be described as this insane offer include Little Mix, Beyonce, Calvin Harris and The Clash.

There's no doubt that over the coming months we'll see much more competition between digital services be it downloads or streams, all fighting for our attention (but mostly our money). None of the offers I've seen thus far have enticed me in. I'm a paid subscriber to Deezer and I still buy physical albums usually via Amazon, and I can't see that changing any time soon. What would these online music stores have to do to convince you to change your subscription or download using their service?



  1. Thanks for the examples of windowing in action within the music industry. You totally validated the TechCrunch article.

    Personally, I listen to all of my music via Spotify. If it's not on there then i'll listen to it on youtube a few times, but then i'll wait for it on Spotify. I signed up to it early as i like the model, but with all of the playlists i've created i can't be bothered to move to another streaming platform (although they're all pretty much the same i think) and set them up again. If there was a way to port them over, then i'd look at other platforms.

    Do you think windowing will shake Apple's dominance of music sales as other platforms are now in strong enough positions to get exclusives and lure users into trying their services?

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