The music industry was in crisis just a few years ago. Sales were cut in half from their peak as single downloads, YouTube and piracy made the CD album go virtually extinct. But music has found its white knight: streaming.
Last year, recorded music revenues in the United States went up by 13% to $11.1 billion — the highest level since 2006. That persuaded Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group, two of the biggest music companies that represent stars like Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift, to announce plans to go public.
So for now streaming has allowed the industry to generate new revenue streams. However, can this last? Will people continue to flock to streaming and will they stay? If not, what comes next? Could this be the beginning of the end for the industry?
As long as there is a form of copyright which gives an entity the exclusive rights there will be an industry. So streaming is it today, no idea what it will be tomorrow. I mean, in 2000 almost nobody thought streaming was a good idea. To guess what will be in 2040 is anybody's guess. It will continues to evolve of course but at some point it might be something complete different again, no idea what though.
What won't change is, that musicians won't earn much unless they are really, really successful.
Isn't streaming the end of the road, after all, what could possibly replace it? Maybe some kind of a distributed bittorrent based cloud? It would also be great if copyright reform allowed more content into the public domain.
I don't see streaming becoming less popular anytime soon, so I don't think the music industry is too worried.
Who knows what coming next? A few decades ago, people had no idea that there would be something beyond the CD, maybe that you could also record music onto a CD. There were also digital tapes like DAT or DCC. Some might even thought already about music files. But streaming was too far ahead. We'll see what is next but the music industry will fight it at first and embrace it at last, musicians will stay the same, as cheap suppliers for the music industry.