Death to the Download: Why the Competition for Listens is Tougher Than Ever

For most of the 2000’s, digital music downloads made up the majority of ways people would buy and listen to music. Everyone you knew in 2008 had an iPod/mp3 player and if they didn’t, they sure wanted one. To be able to take your little square music box and your white headphones anywhere you wanted was a total game changer. This was the way we listened and would continue to listen to music forever. Or so we thought…

Streaming MusicWith the emergence of streaming websites such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Tidal, we no longer have to pay for each individual song. Remember the countless hours of putting together the perfect playlist and waiting through downloads upon downloads? Well now Spotify does that for you. Do you remember spending hours and hours surfing the net to find that new sound you had been looking for? It was just barely worth showing your friends the next big song. Now Pandora does that for you.

Pandora LogoPandora is a massive player in the music streaming industry. Pandora was founded in 2000, establishing itself as one of the first sites to jump start the streaming bandwagon. Pandora attempts to be a different animal, and the same beast (maybe this will make that reference work a little bit better for you). It changes the game with how it lets you stream music. You don’t pick songs to listen to, you pick a song you like and it plays you songs that you would be interested in based on that selection. This clearly has it’s uses, and its drawbacks.

Spotify LogoAnother one of the music industry giants that contributed to the gradual decline of download music is Spotify. Based on its website, Spotify claims to have over 75 million active users. If each of those users listen to one song a day (which some won’t, but some could listen to dozens a day) that’s at least 75 million plays a day. I imagine the number is much higher than that, but that is a lot of traffic on one site. Spotify also boasts a library of more than 30 million songs, rivaling that of Apple Music. These numbers should be more than terrifying to Apple and Amazon, similar to trends of people ditching cable for streaming, it is apparent that people know what they want, and they aren’t going away from it any time soon.

Apple Music  Tidal Music

Apple Music and Tidal are a little bit new to the streaming scene. Apple quickly recognized that what it was doing before was no longer an option, so they had to change. Enter Apple Music. It’s a streaming service that for a monthly fee you can listen to all of the songs that you want on itunes. It also creates playlist based on songs you already have downloaded. It is by Apple obviously, so people like it because they already have their macbooks and iphones so the integration is nice.

Tidal is a new company that is more for the artist. Tidal, by far, pays more to the artist for their music. Spotify pays the least. Tidal is a pretty fresh concept and so far hasn’t worked out like they had planned. It definitely has potential, but it is almost too early to tell in many ways.

Company Pros Cons
Spotify User friendly, large library, free. Ads, some artist refuse to use it (Taylor Swift).
Pandora Free, large library. Can’t choose specific song.
Apple Music Apple integration, large library, huge potential. Not free, relatively new and unknown.
Tidal Jay Z’s circle, fresh idea, pays more. Not free, to new to fully understand.

To me the clear winner in this comparison is Spotify. It has a hold on the streaming game and is not about to let go any time soon. That being said, Apple Music and Tidal do have the potential to overtake Spotify if they make all the right moves. If Jay Z can get music that other services can’t, it will put a real strangle hold on Spotify. Apple Music already has the plat form to be successful. They just need to utilize what they have and not be ignorant to what the people want. As for now, however, it is and will continue to be all about Spotify.

Trey Kamberling

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