If video killed the radio star, then it’s fair to say that several things by now have also ‘killed’ video – from CDs to DVDs to Blu Ray discs. But the question really is whether or not the future has any place for hard copies of our music and films anymore at all with the advent of MP3s – and even more recently the advent of streaming technology.
Nobody believed Steve Jobs when he said he had Walkman-killing technology with the iPod, but it turned out that people were more willing to accept this kind of change than we might have thought and more willing to let go of owning anything physical.
With streaming technology, however, we are asking people to know abandon the idea of owning anything at all – and potentially even downloading files could be a thing of the past.
Benefits of Streaming
There are many benefits to streaming music, and one of the first of these is the fact that it enables you to forego the process of buying things and storing them. Even with MP3s you still had to pay for the music as you wanted it and you still needed room on whatever device you owned to store it. However with something like Spotify you have permanent access to a huge library of music on demand and all of it is available immediately if you’ve paid your monthly fee. None of it has to stay on your computer, and you don’t need to feel guilty when you fancy listening to a new track.
This also means that you can now listen to music that you want to try out, or that you’re just in the mood for, without making any specific commitment by actually buying it. And furthermore, it means that you can access that music from any device wherever you are as long as you have your log in details (rather than having to rip the same CD hundreds of times or try to circumvent irritating restrictions on files you paid for)..
Negatives of Streaming
But are these positives enough for streaming to become the new status quo? There are downsides as well. Take for instance the fact that you don’t have anything to show for your expenditure – some people like actually owning their music and being able to call it theirs.
Then there’s the fact that you need to be connected to the internet to enjoy services like Spotify – which could be a problem for someone listening to music on the train for instance. Fortunately, most services allow you to download your tracks if you wish and the popularity of things like iCloud mean that people are more and more getting used to the idea of the ‘cloud’. No doubt 4G will make the whole process a lot smoother too.
So really there are too many benefits and too much precedent for streamed music to really fail, and for many, this is likely to become the method of choice for enjoying their favorite music. All that remains to be seen is whether or not the companies responsible, and the record labels can figure out a business model that’s profitable for everyone and that entices artists to sign up for it.