Do We Take Music For Granted?

Music is readily and freely available to us, we treat it as a given, like clean water coming out of our taps and being able to breathe fresh air. No real value has been given to its creation, because it is all around us. We only have to turn to YouTube, Vevo or a similar site and we can find any song we could ever want — even songs that are not on steaming services. A part of me thinks this is fantastic because we can discover music that was never before possible, but what price are the artists paying for this.

People love paying for a live show, dinner in a restaurant, an expensive pair of headphones or the latest fashion trends but seem to really struggle paying $9.99 a month for unlimited music (the cost of two double shot flat whites’). Crazy!

More importantly, we understand that if we were to take a pair of headphones without paying, that constitutes stealing. Yet, when it comes to music, that line becomes so blurred we forego any moral objections and just take, take, take.

Netflix have done a great job in creating enough reason (see; exclusive content like “House of Cards”) for you to stick around and more importantly — pay. The experience is so easy, that people forget about the cost. It just becomes another monthly transaction on their statement. The cost of streaming this content is low, because the data consumption is included in some of these ISP packages and even when the internet is terrible (most of the time in Sydney) Netflix seems to always work fine.

So why haven’t we nailed this with music yet?

I don’t care what anyone says, music streaming is here to stay. But, there is still a lot of work to be done before it becomes mainstream.

On demand services are great, but even though no one really likes listening to ads when they are enjoying their music, they really don’t like paying for something that they could otherwise get for free somewhere else.

This is the one thing Tidal did get right: they release exclusive content just like Netflix. Smart, because it gives people a reason to go to Tidal and stay on their platforms. If they like that exclusive material, they will pay and more importantly, be more loyal — not sure if Kanye is the best spokes person for this though, but it’s a good start. Apple is trying to do the same with their celebrity studded radio shows.

These are both good ideas and steps into the right direction, but I can’t help but think the key still lies in improving the “user journey” around actual music listening and recommendation. Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, Google Play and others, need to add a better “experience” in order to justify the Premium upsell.

When people pay $200 to see an artist live, they are paying for the experience and the lasting memory that comes with it. This is of course hard to replicate but our intent should be the same. Create an experience that is memorable so that people come back for more.

A lot of music tech start ups focus on creating these new memorable experiences. Some have an approach of creating a more involved experience like ARC and WEAV. These are truly innovative and make for great personalised music experiences but they are not necessarily solving the problem of music recommendation and playlists. Cortney Harding wrote an interesting article on the topic.

These are exciting times for Music Tech and where many would say it is an industry that has no legs, I wholeheartedly disagree. Music will always be created, always consumed and always loved.

It is true that the new models still have to be adjusted to suit the times we live in to make sure everyone is comfortable with music streaming, but I am very confident this shift is already happening and we plan to be a big part of that with Muru.