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WHY IS STREAMING STILL A SECRET?

All-you-can-eat, subscription-based streaming might be the best music product of all time. So why the hell don’t more people know about it?

It’s pretty much every song or album you could ever want to hear, right in your pocket—with new features being added every day to make it easier to use and to help you find more cool stuff to listen to. No commercials, no friction, no muss, no fuss, all for roughly the cost of three lattes per month.

So why haven’t Spotify, Apple Music or the other streaming services undertaken a concerted campaign to educate people about the power of streaming?

Recent research finds that 75% of U.S. music consumers listen to music online, but paid online streaming services amount to just 7% of total expenditures on music.

Is this because ten clams a month is prohibitive for consumers? I tend to doubt it. My suspicion is that people just don’t know about it yet.

This is the celestial jukebox we were promised for so many years, and it might as well be in the Witness Protection Program.

In the last few months I have repeatedly explained to friends and family the musical capabilities available to them right on their phones. I show them that I can push one button and tell Siri to play their favorite song (or the Top 10 songs of the year, or whatever) and their eyes bug out. So why haven’t the streaming services told them?

Apple Music’s rollout has emphasized its Beats 1 radio and music-discovery features in its marketing but neglected to address the “every song on a leash” capability. Its newest ad, which premiered on the Emmys, edges closer to the point but still focuses on curation with its "instant boyfriend mixtape service." The on-demand part still seems to be largely under wraps.

Perhaps Team Cupertino is waiting for new data plans or a new iOS. Maybe, as Jimmy Iovine told us, he doesn’t want the service viewed as a mere utility.

Or maybe it’s more important to Apple to look cool by standing next to Leon Bridges (who, we admit, is awesome)  than to show America that it can hear anything in the annals of recorded music anytime it wants.

That’s what will bring in the massive base of customers, and turn subscription streaming into a bonanza. Because no matter your demo, no matter your musical preferences, it’s pretty much all here: rock, pop, hip hop, country, R&B, folk, underground, classical, opera, jazz, Broadway, avant-garde, film scores—whatever. If you’re hanging out with old friends and waxing nostalgic over the tunes you rocked in college? They’re right there. If you’re in your car and desperately need a shot of Maria Callas? She’s right there. If you suddenly have a hankering to review Curtis Mayfield’s discography? It’s right there.

This is the celestial jukebox we were promised for so many years, and it might as well be in the Witness Protection Program.

Let’s put Apple aside for a moment. Spotify, the biggest streaming service on the planet, is still struggling to migrate users to its subscription tier, despite having made some inroads. They’ve had years to explain the amazing value proposition of subscription streaming to the vast swath of folks who still have no idea what it is. Why haven’t they?

Isn’t it time for an ad/marketing campaign that explains to mainstream folks the depth and breadth of music available to people on the devices they already own? That they can make all this music available for offline streaming to keep data costs down? That access to the world’s smorgasbord of sounds—including all that cool discovery stuff—costs less per month than buying one album?

It may not be the coolest concept in the world, but it could be pretty lucrative. It might even save our asses.

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