Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Car Won't Start So Let's Drive Somewhere

A Wall Street Journal article yesterday by Hannah Karp claims that the number of music-streaming services is set to explode next year, as record labels have warmed up to the idea of renting consumers access to a vast collection of tunes, rather than selling them individual albums or songs.
  • "The percentage of the population that uses these is still really small. There's a long way to go before you saturate the market."  -- Frank Johnson, chief executive of Seattle's MediaNet Digital that they say will help bring more than 50 new streaming services to market next year.
  • "Fans of country music, blues and jazz, classical and opera have been particularly underserved by streaming services so far, as has the casual music listener—the person who really just wants a button and doesn't want to make a playlist."  -- Vickie Nauman, president of 7digital, hoping to bring at least three more services to market next year.
Is it possible that due to caps on bandwidth and increasing costs imposed by consolidating carriers and royalty fees that those small numbers mean that streaming has peaked and consumers are happy with their current sources of music?

Could it be that there's not enough "long tail" in music to make the smallest niches worth doing via stream, given the built-in costs?  Are the lovers of unique types of music not available to the mass audience willing to pay more than the average person?

The completely optimistic article fails to mention those possibilities.

Investor beware.

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