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Thesis 1

THESIS DETAILS
Thesis Title: 'Better a stream than a torrent': are digital music subscription services viable?
Degree Type: MA
Degree Specialism: Analysis
Supervisor(s): Tony Farsides, Sally Gross
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: July 2012
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Other
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (123pp.)
Approx. Word Count: 31,809
Thesis Location / Link: University of Westminister
THESIS CONTENT
Genres / Musical Instruments: Music Industry Analysis
Key Issues / Concepts: Measurement of existing digital music subscription services fairly compensating artists as well as how the model works for consumers.
Abstract: This report has examined the introduction of streaming services, the effect they are having on music consumption, what they mean for rights-holder and artist earnings and where they will be placed in the future. With subscription rates growing globally at an impressive rate it is imperative that we understand how these services are operating and what they mean to the idea of music retail. While streaming seeks to offer subscribers amazing value it also threatens recorded music retail, while claiming to act as a distribution arm of music itself, a promotional tool to entice consumers to purchase content. The access versus ownership debate rages on but with a growing subscriber base streaming services are meeting a demand for their programmes. The re-commodification of recorded music through streaming is a potential long-term win for the rights-holders. The services pay a license fee and a percentage of the ad-funded revenue from their services. The consumers who favour the access model over the ownership model however may forsake the idea of music retail and place their faith firmly in the cloud.

Surveys were conducted with almost 50% of the 507 respondents hailing from Ireland, a country with a very recent foray into streaming services and so showed a huge percentage favouring their digital media players as a form of music consumption. The majority of content on these media players however was unlicensed content. It should also be mentioned that a large number of Irish respondents believed that services such as Spotify and Deezer will not curb piracy but were not able to answer why they thought so. As most Irish people have had limited streaming experience these figures may represent the present state of the populations stance towards streaming.

Those who believed that piracy would not be stopped thought that younger generations who consume pirated content are people who are now actively searching for new ways to not pay for online services and already. Piracy will not cease however as there has been some irreparable damage done to the consumer, establishing a sense of entitlement. People will get a product/service for free until the cost of stealing becomes higher than the price of paying. With graduated responses and Hadopi operating in Ireland, France and soon, the UK, it is now the responsibility of the ISP to monitor and regulate what sites are accessible online instead of placing the owness on the users, which would inconceivable to attempt.

These services provide a positive means of remuneration for artists and although subscription levels are increasing there is still a long way to go before all stakeholders are seeing the positive effects. Some companies are becoming profitable and meeting the demands of all those who have a financial stake within but there is still a long way to go before there is a general consensus that the service is both a major revenue stream for the industry and a deterrent or legal alternative to piracy.

Contact Details

Current Institution Affiliation: University of Westminster
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