“Joe listened to ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen on Rdio.” If you puzzled over these notifications filling your Facebook feed in 2012, get ready for a whole lot more this year.
A torrent of streaming music services has erupted, with Spotify, Rdio, MOG and many more offering users access to a vast collective record library, stored in the cloud and downloaded on demand—and 2013 will be the year they hit the mainstream. Most services offer smartphone apps as well, and Rdio and Spotify boast modes that allows users to sync music to their phones when offline. (Apple is rumoured to be eyeing a streaming, subscription-based version of iTunes, lending the segment big-time credibility.)
U.K.-based Spotify is leading the pack with 20 million users as of December 2012, of whom five million pay $10 a month to remove advertising.
Listeners have flocked to the easy abundance of an all-you-can-eat model, but many musicians have been far less enthusiastic. In November, musician Damon Krukowski penned a frustrated screed about the grand sum of 21¢ received from Pandora for the 7,800 times one of his band’s songs was played on the service. Streaming companies only “exist to attract speculative capital,” he wrote bitterly. That’s a dig at Spotify’s $3 billion valuation, which it garnered by wooing investment from the likes of Goldman Sachs, despite its inability as yet to post a profit. Expect such flat notes to get louder as the services’ popularity grows.