Our old friend, Gennaro Castaldo - now chief insight-piper at the BPI - has popped up in Silicon Republic making excited noises about how streaming might help turn the decline of physical sales:
“The whole streaming thing, I think, has been a bonus that hasn’t been anticipated,” [he] says, suggesting that these UK results may well equate to similar findings in Ireland.The idea that people listening to music they don't actually own could lead to people going out and spending money on music isn't a crazy one. In fact, it's the same thing that most people spent telling the BPI would happen back in the days of the Napster Wars. The BPI wouldn't have it then, so it's nice that it's finally catching up to where everyone else was in 1999.
“It was thought it would carry on the digital trend. It has in one way, as more and more of us are doing it, but it has also permitted the idea that some people can buy music, too.”
Castaldo suggests streaming can actually be looked at as a shop window of sorts, pushing people towards actual purchases, although not to the level of before.
“No, it won’t be the mainstream activity, all of the time,” he said, “but there is potentially a new narrative where you can stream and buy physical. It’s allowing us to think of a new form of music consumption that might not have seemed possible when digital downloads had a decade of growth, fuelled by iTunes.”
Obviously, there's a difference in a legal streaming service and a digitally sourced unlicenced track; the latter, the artist made absolutely nothing from the transaction, but with Spotify et al, the artist has to wait for a lot more transactions before their earnings reach even that level.