Streaming services have become a staple in the music industry with only small pockets of resistance across the board. These services have brought in more money than downloads for the music industry and it doesn’t take a student of statistics to understand what’s going on here.
The convenience of it all is what people enjoy most about these services. Instead of having to switch from your Blackberry to your iPad to listen to that one song you’re really jonesing to hear, you can just open one app and access your whole collection. If your battery dies, you need only switch devices to continue your Norah Jones jam session.
All this for about $10 a month seems rather suspicious though. If, like me, you’ve ever posed the question “So for about the same price of a Big Mac, large fries, Fruit’N Yogurt Parfait, three cookies and a large coke, I can get access to over 30 million songs?”
Then we are in large company as this schema has baffled most people but all for different reasons. You see, there are two major schools of thought when it comes to this pricing system. The first of which claim it’s too pricey while the second profess that it is too cheap.
Analysts have noted that, during the downloads peak, we were only spending about $3.8 per month for music in a year and that was down from about $5 during the peak of CD sales. The reason for the drop in revenue was because CD’s came with sets of songs, so we ended up buying entire albums just to listen to 2/3 songs. The advent of downloads has allowed us to purchase the 2/3 songs we were going to listen without having to pay for the 9/10 others.
This is where the first school of thought bases its entire argument. It claims that the average music consumer is not willing to pay double what they normally do for a service. This claim is probably most evident in the gap between the active users in the freemium tier of streaming services and their paying counterparts. Paying subscribers only make up about 2/5 active users so you can probably see where this school is coming from.
Streaming services have been operating at a loss for some time now and the gap between revenues and expenses seems to be mimicking our universe in its expansion. This coupled with artists continuously complaining about their payment structures has forced many to believe that we should be paying more for our streaming services.
The solution for this was to offer lower prices to attract more customers and thereby alleviate the financial burden on streaming services. This solution seems to appease both schools as having more people paying you less individually should increase your overall income. The problem lays with the record labels. They seem to be trying to make up for all their lost revenue in the past by doubling the pricing for music consumption now. All this because piracy had nearly gutted them in the past.
The truth is that more people prefer streaming services than they do piracy and the presence of streaming services has decreased the quantity of piratic behavior. We are always looking for convenience.
Most of our technological achievements have only been made because someone wondered whether there was an easier way to complete a seemingly tedious task (we work hard to be lazy). Piracy has become tedious and people are willing to part with a portion of their disposable income just for convenience.
With all this in mind, we can now examine how the streaming services have tried to game the system into appeasing both schools with minimum backlash.
Let’s start with market leader’s Spotify. Their pricing structure is pretty straight forward if you ask me. It offers a three month trial period where you only pay $0.99, a $9.99 subscription fee for individuals and a $14.99 family plan for up to 6 people. Students pay $4.99 for the service and there is an option to not pay at all if you’re okay with limited services with ad-riddled content.
Overall, this service probably gives you more for dollar but if you have a specific itch you want scratched for your streaming service then having this as an auxiliary is not worth it unless you’ve opted for the free service.
Apple Music are probably a close second unless you’re an Apple home then it should probably be your first choice. With a three month free trial on offer, $9.99 for individuals and $14.99 family plan for a family of 6, it keeps to the status quo. Students can also look to enjoy a $4.99 service fee but individuals can also pay $99 for a full year’s subscription. Apple Music supports most devices but it is best suited for Apple products.
Tidal is for the pure audiophiles. Those that are unwilling to compromise on quality, have the equipment to tell the difference and won’t mind paying a little extra to get it. It offers a 30 day free trial which isn’t as long as its largest competitors but is still worth the try.
It also offers $4.99, $9.99 and $14.99 for students, individuals and families (up to 5 members) respectively. That pricing plan is for its standard fidelity service though as the Hi Fi pricing will cost you $9.99, $19.99 and $29.99 for students, individuals and families (up to 5 members) respectively. They also offer services for $5.99 and $11.99 in standard and Hi FI tier for military personal.
Google Play Music has a pretty similar pricing plan as Tidal does, barring the military and Hi Fi plans. Like Tidal, it offers a 30 day free trial, offers a $9.99 plan for premium subscribers and, like tidal, its family plan is $14.99 with up to 5 members eligible for the family plan. The only thing that I’d say about Google Play Music’s pricing is that they should consider a student bracket.
They aren’t really in the position to be losing customers over something as silly as this. They are backed by one of the world’s largest tech giants so they can surely afford to give a student discount. I’ve seen a number of students that were attracted to the platform, choose services like Spotify over GPM solely because of the student plan.
The last streaming service that we’ll look at is probably one of the most interesting. Pandora is a pioneer in the streaming service market. Their pricing plans are a tad bit confusing though. They offer a 2 month free trial period and a $9.99 plan for their premium tier service. If you get the app from IOS app store then you’ll be paying $12.99 while Google Play store customers pay $9.99. They also offer a $4.99 plan for all individuals with only minor limitations.
If you would like to switch from one streaming service to the next then you should try using the MusConv tool. It allows you to move all your tracks and playlists from one service to the next with minimum effort. You also have the option to save your playlist as a CSV file to aid in the porting process.