Streaming limits use of digital music files, giving labels control. Brad King writes in Wired:
- “Labels want to maintain as much control as humanly possible, and with streaming they can keep people coming back for more,” said GartnerG2 analyst P.J. McNealy. “But the labels want to protect their content and generate revenues, so this means ultimately they want to keep selling CDs.”
Record executives have been loath to support downloads because they feared the practice would eat into the $14 billion CD retail sales market.
Pressplay, FullAudio and MusicNet have been pushing for liberal download plans that allow consumers to grab any file they want, but with a catch: The downloaded files have an additional cost and come with restrictions that prevent unlimited mobility.
Meanwhile, companies like Listen.com and MusicMatch are attracting users by offering interactive streaming services. Labels more readily license content to such services because it’s housed on private servers, making it more difficult to copy and distribute over peer-to-peer networks.
Even EMusic.com, which built its business selling downloads as a subscription service, is being forced to reconsider its business model after some users started downloading 2,000 tracks per month — roughly 165 albums — according to general manager Steve Grady.
This is music as a service rather than as a “thing.”