The shift from downloadable music to tunes that you can stream wirelessly over any 3G/4G LTE and WiFi network is not something that happened over the last few weeks. The way we as consumers access our music has been moving in this direction for the better part of a year or two. It isn’t hard to see why many people would rather pay a subscription fee for endless music streaming as opposed to downloading high priced tracks on a single song basis or simply buying the entire digital album. As a consumer, buying digital tracks can become expensive. By streaming, you still get access to much of the content you want, but without having to buy single songs or whole albums.
There are still those consumers out there who prefer to buy outright a set of tracks or collections of albums to fill up their library as opposed to streaming though, and Google’s rising sales in music downloads from Google Play Music is living proof of that. It might be surprising to learn that Google is actually seeing increased sales numbers in downloaded music, especially when you factor in that you can add nearly all of the music one can download from Google Play into their All Access library and listen to it any time they want for just $9.99 a month. Users can even download those songs to listen to them offline without having to buy them. Even in light of this, consumers are apparently continuing to buy music off of Google Play, which is perhaps an oddity as other music download stores are seeing a decrease in sales.
As an industry whole, digital track sales are down 13% compared to this time last year according to Zehavah Levine at the SF MusicTech Conference, who is Google’s Vice President of Global Music Partnerships. Google’s vast library of songs now includes over 30 million tracks, all which can be streamed to any one of a users authorized devices. So how then the increase in sales when virtually everything can be streamed for a low monthly cost compared to the cost of buying? Levine points out a detail that suggests it could all come down to numbers and sheer size of marketshare. There are over a billion active Android users, many of which don’t have access to iTunes, an obvious popular alternative to downloading your favorite music. That leaves a very small selection of other offerings, and I can only think of two, Amazon Music with Prime Music, and Google Play Music. Google Play Music is already installed onto every Android device now, so it’s the first thing that’s available to consumers who want to buy. Levine also mentions that subscription and paid download models for music can coexist, and that we won’t see any changes to that for quite some time(many years). How do you access music? Do you still buy using Google Play Music or some other service? Or are you strictly streaming?