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2019 State of Music Streaming Report

60% of music streamers report frustrations by their streaming experience. The 2019 State of Music Streaming report reveals what music streamers want from their listening experience.

Primephonic, the world’s leading classical music streaming service, released its “2019 State of Music Streaming” study that found the industry is far from perfect, with 60% of music streamers[1] expressing at least one frustration with their music streaming experience over the last six months, indicating that despite massive growth, the industry still has a long way to go.

The study, conducted online with third party research firm YouGov, uncovered how consumers really feel about their experience streaming music and how they think music streaming services can improve.

So, How Can Streaming Improve?

When asked about specific frustrations and pain points respondents indicated these four areas needed work.

  • Searchability: The majority of Americans (73%) — — and over half of streaming subscribers (56%) — didn’t indicate feeling that they can always easily find the exact artist, album or song they’re looking for on streaming services
  • Catalog: 27% Americans report that streaming services have the music they’re looking for, indicating that the majority of Americans (73%) would not say they are satisfied with the music available on their streaming platforms
  • Recommendations: The majority of Americans (74%) — and nearly 6 in 10 (57%) streaming subscribers — fell short of endorsing music streaming platforms as doing a good job of introducing them to music they haven’t heard before
  • Audio Quality: Nearly a third (32%) — and nearly half of subscribers (45%) — say that audio quality is an important factor when streaming their favorite music, something that few streaming services on the market currently prioritize

This partially explains why just 21% of Americans report they currently have a paid streaming service: there is therefore a massive opportunity for streaming platforms willing to go the extra mile and offer a service that truly meets consumers expectations.

“We’ve entered a time where consumers value experience above all else,” said Thomas Steffens, CEO of Primephonic. “Given just 21% of Americans are currently paying for streaming services, there’s a massive missed opportunity in the music streaming industry. We must become better, as an industry, at removing frustrations from the streaming experience in order to capitalize on that revenue. Industry players that are able to truly answer the unmet needs of listeners will rise to the top, giving their subscribers better opportunities to discover and share music, becoming the true music streaming leader.”

Hitting the Right Price Point

When it comes to what Americans are willing to shell out to stream music:

  • $10 is the sweet spot, with 51% of those Americans willing to pay for a streaming service preferring to pay less than $10
  • Though, 49% would be willing to pay more than $10 (with 34% specifying that they’d pay $10-$15)

When it comes to experience, a quarter of those who already have paid streaming music subscriptions (25%) are willing to pay more for a streaming service that meets all their needs, meaning platforms are missing out on a massive revenue opportunity. Digging in deeper:

  • Nearly 2 in 10 (18%) of currently paid subscribers — meaning over 9M Americans — say they’d pay extra for a streaming service if it meant they’d receive more artist and song options
  • 1 in 9 (11%) would pay for a streaming service with a better ability to search for a specific artist or genre

Niche Genres are Left in the Dust

In a world dominated by pop music Americans still have an appetite for niche genres like classical music. However:

  • 1 in 7 (14%) music streamers think it is frustrating that streaming platforms don’t cater to more niche genres
  • 1 in 11 (9%) would pay for a streaming service specifically dedicated to their favorite genre, suggesting that the niche genre streaming market could be a $1B+ market

Taking a closer look at classical music, almost half of Americans (46%) cannot name a single classical composer. When respondents were asked to identify the composer of some of the most famous classical movements after listening to the pieces:

  • A whopping (68%) couldn’t identify Mozart as the composer of one of his most famous works, Le Nozze di Figaro
  • Over a third (34%) couldn’t identify Beethoven as the composer of 5th Symphony, one of his most famous works (there’s a whole reddit thread dedicated to this exact topic)

“While it’s quite jarring to see that the majority of Americans don’t recognize Mozart’s most famous piece, there’s a huge opportunity in this lack of knowledge,” said Steffens. “It’s undeniable that the digital era, until this point, hasn’t been good to niche genres like classical, but that must change. Classical is the foundation of all other music, and it’s essential that as the music listening experience transforms, we bring classical with it. With other major players like Spotify and Apple Music not focused on this critical segment, companies like Primephonic have a duty to fix classical music’s streaming problem to ensure that it’s not something that’s lost forever.”

Artist Payouts Is a Problem

Artist payout is a hot button issue in the streaming industry and also among consumers for their favorite artists. In fact, only nine percent of Americans consider the way streaming platforms compensate artists fair, suggesting the vast majority of Americans believe it is unfair. Though a problem for all artists, this payout problem is even larger with niche genres, given the standard per track model is designed for pop music and doesn’t work for the standard classical piece, which is much long: the classical genre therefore gets severely undercompensated compared to other genres.

Primephonic looks to answer many of these problems — focusing on an elevated digital experience for classical music fans, with a strong classical catalog, more tailored search functions and a focus on a fair artist payout model. The classical streaming service, as of this week, has expanded beyond its initial availability in the US, UK and the Netherlands, and is now accessible across Europe and in all of North America (including Canada). For more information about where you can download and enjoy Primephonic, visit: www.primephonic.com

Research Methodology

Primephonic commissioned YouGov PLC — a third party, professional research and consulting organization — to poll the views of 1,287 US adults . Field work was undertaken online between May 24–27, 2019 and June 10–11, 2019. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).

[1] US adults who have streamed music in the past 6 months