If 2017 is the year streaming hits the stratosphere, who will reap the biggest rewards?
For the top streaming acts, SEA numbers have hit huge new heights, and Spotify and Apple Music are generating sufficient revenue (as we’ve noted previously) to fuel substantive A&R initiatives by the labels.
Meanwhile, a Spotify IPO (or purchase) looms as the streamery works to lock down renewed deals with the majors. Will the financial frenzy make Daniel Ek’s digital giant even harder to catch? How will Jimmy Iovine and team pump up Apple’s subscriber base? Before Sir Lucian Grainge kiboshed Apple exclusives for UMG releases—and Spotify pushed back hard—several labels used them to catapult their titles to #1 (outside the Uni system, L.A. Reid’s Epic, for one, has continued to score on the charts with them). It’s worth noting that Republic’s recent Fifty Shades Darker single from ZAYN and Taylor Swift was actually an Apple exclusive for several hours before Tay delivered it to Spotify.
With Spotify and kindred services becoming a new radio, and playlists driving massive streams for hit acts, playlist curators are the new PDs being worked by the labels. Look for further shuffling of resources at the majors to accommodate this new reality.
And what about the other players in the streaming games? Pandora looks to step onto the field in third place when it debuts its on-demand service. Rumors continue to churn that Sirius/XM will try to acquire the company, while rival SoundCloud is also the subject of buyout rumors—with Google considered the top suitor. Google’s own Google Play Music has yet to achieve traction, while its YouTube Red looks like a non-starter thus far. Don’t look for YouTube music head Lyor Cohen to improve the situation. Amazon hasn’t yet proved a big player on the streaming-music side, but its Echo may change that dynamic, given that the voice-activated media device proved one of retail’s hottest items over the holidays.
Look for much more action on this front before we get too far into the year, and buckle up.
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