Pundits cheer for the leader. They applaud mighty Microsoft, Nokia or MySpace and their world beating sales, revenues or numbers of users. Cynics shoot down the leader, pointing out flaws in the pundits’ latest darling. I don’t do much of the former but you have to bear in mind nobody really knows who’s right, until it happens.
Steven Levy has an article in Wired about what I’ll call The Spottybook Theory. There are two main proposals here: streaming will have massive scale and that scale will make money. So I did a rough comparison of the features.
These examples are shorthand for general categories: radio, records, upload sites and streaming services.
Streaming has been tried for a decade and few services have survived. Even less have made any money. None have made a profit overall. If the pundits are to be believed, somehow Spotify has cracked the magic formula but it needs to get at least as big as radio. That’s their real competition, not iTunes. If you want reliable, universal access to a wide range of music there’s no alternative to ownership. At least, not yet.