The Problem Of Digital Detritus

Apple Mulls Launching Spotify Rival, Android App as Downloads Decline (Sources)

… so far this year, U.S. digital album sales are down 13 percent for the week ended March 9, and digital track sales are down 11 percent from last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Even as download sales have deteriorated, revenue from streaming services have grown, according to two reports released on March 18. The first, from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), showed that streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube generated $1.4 billion in subscription, advertising and licensing revenues in the U.S. last year, up 39 percent from 2012, while downloads revenue were down 3.2 percent to $2.9 billion. The second report, from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), painted a similar picture, albeit on a global scale. Streaming music revenue grew 51 percent worldwide, while downloads slipped 2.1 percent.

It was in 2009 that I first heard about a thing called Spotify, from Bob Lefsetz.


I used to comb Limewire and Rapidshare, adding to my collection of often unlistened to MP3s. But I’ve just about given up. It’s just not worth the time. Not when I’ve got Spotify.

Once again, everything the pundits said was going to be true is. You don’t fight piracy via lawsuits, you just develop a more enticing business proposition. ISP fees? Charging for downloading? Who is going to bother to take the time to steal when you can listen to whatever you want, instantly?

And I thought, pay a monthly fee but not own anything? GTFOH.

In that same post he also wrote:

There’s a good chance the iTunes Store could be toast, a veritable sideshow. Because soon, the majority of people will not own their music, they’ll rent. And they’ll be happy to do so. True cheapos will pay in advertising, those with more sense than time will pay. But nobody will bother paying by track to own in an evanescent format, they’ll just want to stream.

Given how downloads seem to be decreasing in popularity, he was right.

I don’t know if it’s the zeitgeist or the ongoing effects of the economic depression (they don’t call it that) that began in 2008, but I see many people beginning to get sick of owning so much.

I have a 1TB archive drive and I can’t believe the amount of crap I have on it. I’ve begun to go through it (a process that will take weeks, if not months) and I’m just astonished that the things I saved several years back are now worthless. YouTube clips, text files, many other things. Whatever it was that I thought important about them back then no longer applies. So I’m left with a lot of junk.

And while I’ve been going through it, I realized for myself that I don’t want to own this stuff. What I really want is eternal access to it. I want at any time from any location to listen to song W or see video clip X or TV episode of series Y or movie Z. I don’t want to have to worry about clogging hard drives with all that — and then worry about the hard drive failing. Just let me at all of it when I want it or need it at reasonable price.

Just about the only thing I download now are public domain books from Google Books. I purposefully scour for them and save them — not my preference but as a defensive measure against the public domain parasites who want to erase them.

As for eBooks, Amazon already has that covered with their Cloud shelves for customers. People have no fear of deleting a book from their Kindle or tablet. It’s always there for them to get.

Back to Lefsetz:

Apple will have to immediately compete or soon be marginalized. You’ll have to be able to stream everything in the iTunes Store. Apple’s only advantage being portable streaming on the iPhone.

Will Apple listen?

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Filed under Apple: The Company, Music

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