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How Technology Has Changed The Online Musical Marketplace

Thursday December 8, 2016. 02:00 PM , from Music Think Tank
The music industry is in a state of flux. Technology has changed the way musicians play and how engineers produce music, but most of the impact can be measured in how listeners consume and discover music. But what are the main technologies and platforms, who drives these trends and how has the business end held up? Here’s a look at how technology has changed the way people listen, buy, sell and discover music.
Machine Learning
With the advent of music streaming services like Spotify and Google Play Music, big data has the means to determine what consumers enjoy and can extrapolate those analytics to better construct online listening preferences. These music apps are among the most popular, though they’re not the only ones on the market. And with endless options, consumers naturally gravitate toward services that best serve their interests.
Indeed, users want a music service that can recommend new music based on their listening preferences. This intelligence is exemplified in Google Play Music’s “I’m feeling lucky radio” feature, which compiles users’ music selection history and, like Pandora, then identifies similar artists to form a playlist. These streaming services also offer downloadable premium options that let users download their favorite tunes. While microSD cards may seem obsolete for many users, the Samsung Galaxy S7 offers a microSD slot so users can store their music without the need to delete apps from their device.
Music Services and Discovery
While Spotify is the most popular music service on the market, there are many others hot on their heels. For those who live abroad, Deezer is one of the few music services like Spotify that works in Canada. Similar to Spotify, Deezer has a free option and two levels of premium content: one features a mini app for $4.99 a month and the other a complete optimized app for $6.99 a month.
Google Play Music has removed its social network functionality. Instead, the program relies exclusively on users’ prior music choices. The first, and perhaps most stalwart online streaming service, is Pandora Radio. Pandora doesn’t focus on albums, but rather acts as a quasi traditional radio station, albeit one that can be personalized. But since Pandora is an online, private company, this longtime service receives money directly from record companies to allow for greater airtime. While this system may not always have users’ best interests in mind, look for this trend to spread, as online music services still struggle to turn a profit.
The Future of Online Music
Despite the popularity of online music services, most struggle to turn a profit and have posted huge losses in recent years. For instance, in 2015, Pandora posted an $85 million loss in a single quarter. And while Spotify had more than 30 million paid subscribers in 2015, the company is also operating in the red, which indicates this business model may not have staying power. While there seems to be cause for concern, experts say there’s no reason to believe the popularity of these services will diminish; however, the business model will likely change, as technology has thus far outpaced the business side of things.
 
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