A special feature for the end of what has a been a big and often controversial year for streaming. Here are the views of 10 CEO’s of of the top streaming services and of the leading multi-room streaming system, on the following two questions:
1 – What was the most important thing to happen to the streaming market in 2012
2 – What is the most important issue that the streaming market must address in 2013
Daniel Ek, CEO and Founder – Spotify
2012: Growth – both in terms of the number of people who are now paying for music again and the growth in payments back to artists as a result. 2012 was the year when people realised the future growth in the music industry is coming from streaming services.
2013: The abundance of choice. How do you make sense out of 20 million songs?
Axel Dauchez, CEO – Deezer
2012: The streaming market continues to progress at breathtaking speed and we’ve seen some incredibly positive developments in 2012. Most exciting for us, is the fact that targeted online content has developed into something much, much more sophisticated than just algorithm-generated recommendations. We’re seeing the focus now shift towards personalised music curation. At Deezer we’ve gone a step further, developing really bold new product innovations that are designed to put integration with apps, social media and digital services at the forefront of our new user experience. Our aim is to help music fans discover and share music and promote new artists. That’s why our local editorial teams work hard to create suggested playlists and recommendations to give music fans a more personal and individual service.
2013: Getting as many people as possible to find out about services such as ours! We’re convinced that the future of digital music will rely on music discovery and re-establishing the emotional connection between music and people. Our mantra is to help people rediscover music, through recommendations by real people all over the world. Our locally-based editorial teams share new music from upcoming local artists, not just in their own countries, but with the other editorial guys around the world – another example of Deezer taking music even further regardless of boundaries. Now our biggest challenge is to get people everywhere to find out how intuitive – and fun! – it is to use Deezer, and we hope to make great strides on this in 2013.
Jon Irwin, CEO – Rhapsody
2012: Looking back, 2012 was the year that streaming became mainstream. We’ve seen a rapid evolution since streaming music was freed from the PC and became a constant companion via smartphones, to this year, when streaming made its way into the living room and into cars—the two places where people listen to the most music. Streaming services are everywhere! This heightened awareness has resulted in more consumers embracing the model and eschewing their old beliefs around the need to own their media; which has given rise to more investment in the sector, innovation around business models and M&A activity. After spending the past 10 years forging the path and taking those proverbial arrows, we are finally seeing the realization of streaming music’s promise.
2013: The most important issue of the mainstreaming of streaming is that artists are paying more attention to how they’re being paid on the various streaming services. Artists are seeing a lot of streams, but are not seeing a lot of cash for them. This makes them justifiably nervous that streaming services are getting popular at the expense of digital sales–and in some cases withholding their music from streaming–a detriment to the growth of these services, just as they become popular. The solution of the problem is twofold. First, we need to do a much better job at education about how artists are compensated and creating transparency around where streaming revenues flow. Streaming services have a responsibility to innovate around artist compensation to get more money into artists’ pockets and help them understand how their music is being consumed. I think there is a lot more that we can—and should—do to ensure that artists are fairly compensated for their music and are extracting maximum value from streaming services.
Steve Purdham, CEO and Founder Investor – We7
2012: Two things, in the UK, the silent landmark in 2012 was the launch of the BBC iPlayer Radio app this has the potential in 2013 to be the catalyst for mainstream adoption of streaming, without the need to know its streaming and secondly the driving momentum of smart phone and tablet adoption reaching what I believe was a tipping point in 2012.
2013: In 2013 the dream would be easier licensing, more flexible pricing plans removing the artificial technical and commercial barriers with the ability to demonstrate clear ROI’s but in reality for any of the models to work they need the true internet scale that is possible and to achieve that we need to find the means to enable mass market adoption. This is the elusive jewel in the crown that we all should be really seeking to solve.
Ben Drury, CEO and Founder – 7 Digital
2012: Streaming cloud locker services from Google and Amazon
2013: Globalised rights
Drew Larner, CEO – Rdio
2012: Social media has had a profound impact on the way music is shared, which is something we anticipated when we first built Rdio. 2012 also saw the entry of services into global markets (with our own service expanding to 17 countries). The continued growth of mobile around the world with faster speeds and better phones also contributed to the rise of music streaming in 2012.
2013: Awareness is still a key factor moving into 2013. We’ve seen a big shift in 2012 with more services opening up globally, but we aren’t truly mainstream yet. Innovating on discovery is a key focus as well. With all the songs in the world at your fingertips, creating fun ways to decide what to play next is a challenge. We built Rdio with human powered music discovery at the heart of the experience and we’ll continue to enhance discovery across platforms moving into 2013. Another key issue moving into the new year is the our responsibility to the artist community. We’ve started to address this through the recently launched Artist Program and will continue to work closely with artists to help them create new revenue streams and tap into new opportunities generated by the streaming music model.
Nick Massey, CEO – Rara
2012: The introduction of frictionless music sharing across social networks has led to a massive increase in the adoption of music streaming in 2012. 62.6 million tracks were played 22 billion times across Facebook in the first 12 months of open graph coming to the network. In the UK UMG reported that 7.5bn tracks had been streamed in 2012 to mid November; a 700% increase on the 1.1bn tracks streamed in 2011.
2013: Despite the huge rise in popularity of streaming, there’s a lot more work to do before the mass market transitions from music ownership to the access based streaming music services. Increasing adoption of tablet computing is making it easier for people to consume digital entertainment content while high speed broadband and 4G mobile networks deliver more data to us faster. However it will be the ways in which streaming services enable simple but engaging access to music through recommendations, sharing and curation which will be key to driving wider consumer uptake in 2013.
Mike Bebel, Head of Music – Nokia
2012: 2012 was a year when many of the mainstream music service providers realized that the typical mobile music consumer is seeking more effortless and delightful entertainment. This is something we had already understood and rolled out to over 20 markets around the globe with Nokia Music, the most satisfying and compelling mobile music experience to date.
2013: In 2013, we expect others will follow our lead and work hard to remove barriers to usage and some have already announced that they also need to solve the consumer issues that we identified long ago. Rest assured that Nokia Music will continue to innovate and deliver the music that people love in the most satisfying and intriguing mobile experiences. We welcome all to discover and enjoy it.
Espen Lauritzen, CEO – WiMP
2012: The beginning of consolidation in the industry, which I believe we will see more of in the coming year.
2013: The big discussion on sustainability of the business model throughout the value chain.
John MacFarlane, Founder and CEO – Sonos
2012: In 2012 we’ve seen streaming services go mainstream. With the proliferation of innovative services such as Spotify, RDIO, Pandora, Rhapsody and QQ, we now have access to more music than ever before. At Sonos we’re dedicated to providing music lovers with the simplest way to enjoy all the music on earth in every room and our partnership with such popular music services has ultimately seen our customers consume twice as much music.
2013: 2013 must bring a healthy debate on the value chain of artist to consumer within streaming, and it’s essential that this is resolved to ensure the artist gets paid and the consumer gets a great experience. We are just beginning this dialogue but it absolutely needs to be continued in earnest over the next year.
2012: It was streaming’s big year. Finally the confluence of ubiquitous connectivity, and smartphones and tablets going mainstream has created the necessary market conditions for streaming to step up to the plate. It is still very early days and streaming revenues are dwarfed by download and CD revenue, but finally there is the glimmer of a ‘digital plan B’. The artist streaming debate was a useful coming of age for artists, but too much data has too often been misinterpreted, creating a confused marketplace.
2013: 9.99 is not a mass market price point, somehow (bundling, discounts, pricing innovation, partnerships etc) that price must come down to drive wider adoption. Also the value chain must work out a transparency solution that can work within the restrictions set by commercial relationships. Artists may never get the full picture, but it is in the interest of all parties that they get as much of it as is possible to help them make informed opinions. Finally, the elephant in the room remains YouTube. More catalogue than any of the other services, video (of course), great functionality, on every smartphone and tablet, and all for absolutely nothing. That creates a playing field that is anything but level for the rest.