e-Radio killed the MP3 star.

Posted by Flux on 

8 October 2013


What’s trending now?

Streaming audio. The next stage in the evolution of audio.

Why it’s important?

We are witnessing another stage in the evolution of audio. It was not too long ago that a piece of technology appeared, a way to encode music so that it is small enough to be ‘shared’ in an email. This breakthrough (or disaster, depending on which side of the fence you are on) was the simple MP3. We are now seeing a new move, a new direction for audio, all hail Streaming Audio. Although it has been around for a while, it also took a while to hit mainstream, with the launch of iTunes Radio at the end of September 2013, it looks like streaming audio is here to stay.

After numerous court battles, some victories (remember Napster?), and many losses it seems like record companies have finally given up (mostly), to stop the piracy (sharing?) wave. Hence the birth of streaming audio you can’t beat them join them, right? Streaming audio is free, so why bother with sharing (stealing?)? The record companies and so the artists get a tiny percentage for the ‘radio’ play on streaming audio channels, generated by banner ads, music sales, premium services and the like.

What’s the butterfly effect?

The lesson is this, the internet, tech, and social media has ways of altering industries that are mindblowing, fast, and devasting (Think the closing of the classic Tower Records in London in 2004) or it can be brilliant and a brand new way of thinking of selling your products, think iTunes who by simply separating the songs, integrating the players into every product, managed to (re?)capture the market, with digital single sales being 7 times higher than CD sales last year. However, even apple is in danger of losing its grip on digital music sales, cue the intro of iTunes radio.

The pioneers

Apple, who picked up 11 million users  in its first week and Google with their streaming audio services have the edge, simply due to the massive amount of data they have collected about the audiences. They can customise experience, advertising and offerings like few others.

Pandora is one of the most famous streaming audio services, with 66 million listeners and the third highest grossing app in Apple’s app store , although sadly no longer available in South Africa, unless you have US apple id, which most of us do… Pandora generates revenue through in app music sales and premium services. Another favourite is Songza, which plays music according to your mood or time of day, music for Friday evening cocktails for example, along with customised playlists.

In South Africa, you can listen to almost every single traditional radio station online if you wish. And we already have a few dedicated streaming audio channels too, BizRadio and the music streaming service Simfy being the most well known.

The global hot spots?

Music streaming is mostly only available in the US for now, but with lots of loopholes back home we are listening away for free…

By: Pierre du Plessis

About Pierre


Pierre is a communicator, a dreamer and a troublemaker. He loves how we are all connected in more astounding ways and more than we ever thought.
He is completely obsessed with life in contemporary culture and he wallows in new ideas and marvels at how they can restore and re – create our world.

Image credit: Gallo Images/ Getty Images

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