Twitter recently invested a large chunk of money into SoundCloud. It may well be a sign that streaming has grown from a relative gimmick to a legitimate player in the way people consume music.
Arguably the biggest news in music right now is Twitter’s $70 million investment in SoundCloud, bringing the music streaming service’s value to an estimated $700 million in this round of funding. While investing big money is becoming the norm in tech, especially apps, it’s by no means small change, and it might just be a signal that music streaming is here to stay.
While streaming media goes back more than 20 years, the advent of cheap broadband wireless internet and web-enabled smartphones made it possible for music streaming to come into its own, allowing fans to stream tracks wherever and whenever. This led to a steady growth in music streaming services to the point where it has become commonplace, with more and more people logging on and jamming away, in the sidewalk, car, bus and subway.However, digital music downloads has always been a headache for record companies who made most of their revenue from selling CDs, let alone losing sales to illegal downloads through services like Napster. What made their headache worse is the ability for fans to legitimately buy only the tracks they wanted on services like iTunes and Amazon, as opposed to full albums that generated bigger profits. In addition, digital downloads presented a unique challenge for record companies to pay royalties to artists, a problem made worse with streaming through services like Pandora, LastFM and Spotify.
The fact of the matter is that technology changes the way people consume music - from the invention of the phonograph supplanting sheet music, radio supplanting records, to digital downloads supplanting CDs, streaming is a natural progression in music consumption, enabled by the invention of the internet and faster data transfer speeds.With most change comes a certain reluctance, confusion and resistance, especially by those who profited and earned a living off of the way things had always been done. However, change is inevitable and so is adapting to change, and while Twitter’s massive investment in SoundCloud may seem like it’s just business, it’s also a clear sign that the change music streaming has brought about is finally being accepted and embraced.
And when this happens, everyone wins.