MUSIC STREAMING SERVICE Napster SVP Thorsten Schliesche has claimed that services like Napster and Spotify will likely "never" become consumers' primary medium for listening to music.
You'd think that as SVP and GM of Napster Europe, Schliesche would be confident about the future of music streaming. However, if our conversation with him is anything to go by, he's not as convinced about its future as you might expect.
When asked when music streaming will likely become most consumers' primary means of listening to music, Schliesche promptly answered "never", claiming that people will continue to buy physical CDs and download MP3s from services such as iTunes and Amazon.
"[Music streaming] will never become the primary medium. Of course, it will be dominant, and will become more so over the next two years, but people have bought expensive equipment for their homes and will continue to buy CDs."
"Streaming will mainly be used as a means for discovery," Schliesche said, adding that people will likely use services such as Napster and Spotify "to make sure they like something before they buy".
Schliesche also blamed consumer perception issues for the reason that music streaming will never become a widespread phenomenon, claiming that people don't know how much such a service should cost, and are therefore more comfortable purchasing singles and albums.
"We definitely still have some consumer perception issues. Based on what they have learned, there is a defined price for an album, so it's easy for consumers to understand their value."
"With streaming, on the other hand, people don't know how much it should be, and this is why we won't see mass market distribution."
Still, thanks to Napster's partnerships with mobile operators across the globe, Schliesche remains confident that its popularity will continue to grow, and said that he isn't worried about big-name services such as Apple's iRadio clawing customers away from the service.
He said, "Honestly, I am not so much scared about Apple. While the iTunes Store has been great for the music streaming industry, Apple's iRadio service is more a Pandora-like offering, and it doesn't worry us."
Schliesche has since been in touch to say that 'never' perhaps was an exaggeration, adding that he instead believes it will take a while for streaming to become widely adopted.
He said, "I’d like to clarify what I meant by my comment. What I meant to say was that streaming services will become the primary source for music but will not be the only way that people get music in next few years.
"We expect that people will continue to buy CDs and downloads, as well as starting to use streaming services, mainly because they still have lots of ways to play music in those formats in their homes and in their cars. It will take a while for the technology to be updated." µ
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