✖️ Future of instruments, streaming & the economy, deplatforming social media 🤳
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Excellent long read by Cherie Hu looking into the various models of music streaming, or phrased more openly: how music ends up with the listener. I’m a sucker for retrofuturism (what the future used to look like), so I’d like to highlight a 1994 prediction by Paul Goldstein about present day media consumption and the origin of the term ‘celestial jukebox’:
“a technology-packed satellite orbiting thousands of miles above the earth” that could “give tens of millions of people access to a vast range of films, sound recordings, and printed material, awaiting only a subscriber’s electronic command for it to pop up on his television or computer screen.”
In the three days after Spotify Wrapped was released, the app was downloaded 2.3 million times around the world.
Excellent campaign for new user acquisition, but importantly also user reactivation. Users churn. For Spotify historically the subsriber churn rate has been around the 5% mark and should be somewhere below that at the moment, as the company has repeatedly reported improving on that number. Despite that, for a company serving millions of users globally, that number of churned users adds up and reactivating people who, for example, took the famous $1 for 3 months deal has a lot of value for Spotify as they’d now convert into $10 / month users.
MIDiA released a report on the potential impact of a recession on digital media. 3 key outtakes are that streaming subscription growth may suffer, millenials are likely to be hit hardest, and there will be an innovation slowdown due to more conservative investment strategies.
If an economic downturn does occur in the next years, it will coincide with another trend - one that I was particularly excited about while working at IDAGIO, and I think is particularly underrated in companies’ digital strategies as well as the music startup landscape.
I’ll start with this quote from the article:
“Older consumers still in the workforce will inherently increase in value, while those retired will experience little direct impact on their spending power.”
This pairs with another trend in many countries: aging populations leaving the workforce. Often these people are labeled technologically illiterate, but this is not true for very large portions of this group. They may have used computers in the office in the 90s. Were early adopters of the internet. Have had smartphones for 10 years.
This demographic has different priorities in what they consider important in digital media: from genre, to metadata, to audio quality and compatibility with high end soundsystems. If these two trends do combine, I’d expect services to make more effort to cater to this demographic and its sub-groups.
The future of instruments
Fender is betting on machine learning and apps for the future of the storied guitar company.
Video report with people ranging from Richie Hawtin, Tim Exile to Peter Kirn, and people from companies like Elektron, Arturia, Novation, Erica Synths, Bastl Instruments and Verbos Electronics.
Jack Dorsey: “Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard.”
In his series of tweets, Jack Dorsey mentions this piece by Mike Masnick about the importance of protocols over platforms. “Moving to a world where protocols and not proprietary platforms dominate,” he says, “would push the power and decision making out to the ends of the network, rather than keeping it centralized among a small group of very powerful companies.”
It’s an important conversation and a development likely to impact the music industry in coming years. Even if existing music licensing frameworks would make it hard for streaming services to move to open protocols for anything other than user data, it can affect Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms heavily leveraged by the music business.
If you have thoughts about how open protocols would function in deplatforming digital music and would like to share your thoughts, write a piece, send me a link and I’ll place it in a future newsletter.
Hype Machine launched this cool tool in response to the discussions around artist payouts in the wake of Spotify’s 2019 Wrapped playlists.
They encourage people to support their favourite artists additionally by copying the link to your 2019 Wrapped playlist and buying the albums on Bandcamp.
If I could just see one, this would be the only hologram concert I want to see in 2020.
P.S. Small correction: in last week’s mailing I linked to an interview between David Weiszfeld (Soundcharts) and Keith Jopling (MIDiA Research) and misspelled Keith’s name. Apologies.
Regular insights about the future of music, media & tech. Written & composed by @basgras.
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