New Yorker Reviews Cloud Music Services

Sasha Frere Jones’s latest New Yorker column examines various music streaming or “cloud” services, which may or may not signal their arrival as a mainstream proposition. It includes this striking soundbite from Tim “Pandora” Westergren: “Of the twenty hours a week that an average American spends listening to music, only three of it is stuff you own. The rest is radio.” OK, the average American probably listens to a ton of old-school radio in the car and at work, but that’s still a tiny proportion of owned music, which presumably also includes illegal downloads.

What SFJ doesn’t tackle is the economics of on-tap music. Whether the model is FM or satellite radio, free streaming (e.g. Pandora), or subscription streaming (e.g. MOG), the providers of these services are struggling to make a living. Monthly subscriptions have yet to turn music fans on in significant numbers. Meanwhile brands continue to desert unsexy FM radio but typically don’t transfer budgets to its digital descendents, leaving them skint after onerous payments to labels.

Why aren’t more brands attracted to cloud music environments? These services don’t (yet) offer much beyond audio or online display advertising; they lack the bespoke appeal of a music festival hook-up or artist partnership for example. Brands have plenty of music properties to choose from — for now, maybe this one just looks a little too much like radio.

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  1. […] You confess your embarrassing taste in driving music via a dedicated website, your choices are shared with your Facebook friends, and a Spotify playlist of the whole lot is generated. It’s clever. It makes good use of Spotify’s new social features. And for Volkswagen, it’s an innovative way of engaging with its bobo audience (in contrast to the usual online radio executions). […]



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