Doesn’t anyone own music anymore

Seems my original post from back in August really should have been “doesn’t anyone own music anymore”

An article from today’s FT says that sales of downloaded music, video and games passed the £1bn mark for the first time last year (2012)

“Digital music sales rose 15.1 per cent over the year to £383.3m, excluding the growth in music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer.

Data from the Official Charts Company released on Wednesday showed that these services were growing in popularity with 3.7bn tracks streamed in the UK during 2012. The top three streamed tracks reached the equivalent of 140 streams for every household in the UK last year.

Digital downloads accounted for 99.6 per cent of all single sales. Digital album sales rose 14.8 per cent to 30.5m last year with Emeli Sandé’s Our Version of Events the bestseller.

However, physical sales of CD albums fell 19.5 per cent over the year to 69.4m.”

 

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Doesn’t anyone buy music anymore ?

I used to like owning music. Truth be told I still do. I still download songs, albeit mostly now after I’ve listened to the album they originated from on Spotify, and being an ex muso geek I even edit them to get them exactly the way i like – fade-outs, fade-ins eq fixes etc. That’s one of the many reasons why i hate Apple iTunes but that’s not a debate for here. The fact is I spent years building a collection in vinyl,  cassette, CD and now digital but through it all it was mine; to do with as I saw fit.

However it seems that music ownership is going the way of the dinosaur. Global revenues from streaming music services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio will grow almost five times faster than revenues from downloads over the course of this year, according to a new forecast from Strategy Analytics. The research firm predicts that streaming will bring in $1.1 billion in 2012 compared to $3.9 billion from downloads, with overall digital revenues expected to overtake those of physical music in 2015.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the whole scarcity and abundance theories and how the recorded music is  just becoming a another vehicle through which fans connect with the artist or band but to me its still important. Live performance is indeed the true “scarcity” and therefore often the most valued experience but I don’t get to see every band I want to play live and in some cases I don’t even want to – I just love the track(s) and that’s enough. I made a choice many years ago to posses the music I loved and despite all the advances in streaming technologies and services, I find it hard to place my enjoyment in the hands of an intermediary – what happens if Spotify falls out with a particular record company and I loose my treasured playlist.

And by the way, there’s a reason the title of this post used the word “buy”. I’m pretty sure I’m also one of a dwindling band of consumers who still buy their music.

Oh well

Beyond Oblivion – beyond the digital download ??

I sadly missed a tweet (or trick yesterday) on another interesting twist in the whole music download saga. Indeed, if you were preocupied with the Spotify announcement which was big news in itself, this may well have passed you by.

So, if you also missed it, News Corp has made an interesting, if surprising, investment in a digital music start-up company whose stated aim is ” shifting the burden for paying for music to device manufacturers and broadband providers, giving consumers free, legal access to an unlimited number of tracks.”

Let the cheering commence amongst all digital downloaders – but hang on, this must live in the land of ‘too good to be true’ right – whats the catch

Well, according to Beyond Oblivion’s founder Adam Kidron, there isn’t one. Content is essentially ‘licensed’ to devices and services from which unlimited access is provided thus making the actual cost “pretty much invisible to the customer”. Beyond claim this approach will will stimulate the device sales and they will also tier their charges based on the device and market types (presumably a smartphone is cheaper than a PC and South America is cheaper than Europe). The Beyond system can also create protected versions of any file already on a customers device and in a surprising statement “essentially legalise pirated tracks wit the rights owners”. “There is no illegal music in the Beyond world because we pay royalties no matter what its source,” Mr Kidron said.

Beyond will pay monthly royalties from its licence revenue based on the number of times tracks have been played with guaranteed minimums for the record companies and maximum caps to avoid unexpected usage spikes.

Beyond told the Financial Times they “expected to pay out well over $100m in royalties to music companies within five years, but believed it was ultimately possible, via its potential agreements with device manufacturers and the music industry, to add $10bn or more to last year’s global digital music revenues of $3.7bn.”

So this is kinda like pay per use but not quite …. frankly it all sounds a bit confusing and I’m never entirely convinced by claims to make price “virtually invisible” but its clearly a market move to keep an eye on.

What d’ya think ?

Spotify for iPhone – it had to come but …

…. will it be crippled

Spotify have confirmed their iPhone application and a short video demo is sitting on my favourite trusted resource TrustedReviews.

With offine modes, sharing facility (with other Spotify users) and multi device sync this looks a really interesting development in the current streaming vs downloading debate. It also now creates a reason for you to pay for the premium spotify service as the iPhone app will only be available to premium subscribers.

However the big issue here is whether those nice folks at Cupertino will certify it and more importantly ever allow it to run over HSDPA/3G connections. What ??  Simply protecting their iTunes franchise in the face of competition from the streaming market ?? Surely not  ??

Lets wait and see.

My favourite free apps

As the world of free applications continues to grow almost exponentially, I’m often asked what’s the best “free stuff” you can load up on a spanking new laptop. Well, as always, there’s no definitive list of what’s best because “best” is all down to personal opinion and preference. Well, not being one to sit on the fence, here’s a list of free stuff that sits on some of my machines

Spotify – I’ve blogged on this just about anywhere I can – if you’re into music you must have Spotify which is free so long as you’re happy to put up with a few adverts. Quite simply the best quality music  streaming out there and simplicity itself

Mozilla Thunderbird – remarkably there are people out that that hate both Microsoft (so no Outlook) and Google (so no Gmail) – go figure. Anyway, if you fall into that camp then take a look a Thunderbird. Its had a checkered past but now seems to have a new lease of life with powerful tools and extensions from the Mozilla family

OpenOffice – another one for the anti MS/Google brigade but actually its a really powefull (and MS compatible) suite of office applications.

MediaCoder – a superb video encoding and transcoding application with specific solutions for all the popular device types that can be downloaded as separate modules. ave to be everywhere at once, and are happy to be signed in automatically by a 3rd party app, then this is for you.

Paint.Net / Inkscape – excellent Photoshop and Illustrator clones. They may not have all the features of their grown up cousins but they’re freeeeeeeee

Comodo AV/Firewall – the Comodo Internet Security suite was recommended to me by a colleague and it knocks the free competition as well as the more established brands for six. Simple to set up, ad free and low performance overhead.

Picassa – even the anti Google fraternity have to give Picassa a go. Simple way to organise, share and edit your photos

Slingplayer – I know its not exactly “free” because you need a slingbox back at home but the player is a fee download. Full control of my SKY+ and other attached media devices from anywhere in the world with a broadband connection – don’t leave home without it.

I’ll add more as I remember but that’ll do for starters

Anyone wanna recommend some others – go for it

Spotify on Google Android …..

… now that might just be a buying decision

You all know how much I love spotify – well in all the announcements about the slew of new android phones we’re gonna see this year, this little nugget of information seems to have passed almost unnoticed.

Thanks to the nice guys over at TrustedReviews.com we have details of an early spotify app for Android. Building on their propose iPhone app (that still has the Apple boys in a bit of a lather) this one has something even more interesting under the hood – the promise of an offline mode where tracks can be stored for later listening.

Suddenly, android looks even more attractive

The ultimate try before you buy..

People who view my ‘non CIO’ blog – RockandRoll Football – will know that I stumbled across spotify earlier this year and love it.

So I was excited to hear today that a deal has been struck between Spotify and 7 Digital that will see a ‘Buy From 7Digital’ option added to the right click menu inside Spotify and will cover a six million strong catalogue of tracks. Now for the iTune haters amongst us – and there are many – this is just fantastic news as 7Digital also delivers its content at ear embracing 320kbps bitrates.

But is this the ultimate try before you buy experience ??  In the past you were only able to hear a few seconds of poor quality audio before making a purchase decision on a particular track. Now you get the whole track, superb quality, arguably better performance than on your local device (see my comment on iTunes performance vs Spotify) and all this before hitting the buy button. Is this the future for other consumer items ?? What d’ya think ??

In related news, I also heard that Spotify are finalising an iPhone / iTouch solution that will be available from the app store. Will Apple really let this go out unencumbered and embarrass their belover iTunes ?  Indeed, if you can get Spotify quality streamed to your device and the buy from 7Digital – why would you use the iTunes store at all ? This one will be interesting to watch.