Subscription services like Rdio, Mog, Rhapsody and Spotify promise to restore stronger growth to the music industry. The model’s best hope, Spotify, has four million paying subscribers.
Mulligan said he was not discrediting the efforts of music streaming services that are currently facing off against each other. Indeed, “It took Rhapsody 11 years to get to one million users, it took Spotify nine quarters.” But Mulligan noted the difficulty they will have in taking the model mainstream beyond early unlimited-access fans:
Subscription services would, doubtless, see this a little differently. A plethora of new devices and carriers would seem to offer them a significant opportunity to gain new customers through bundled distribution. That is significantly different today from the days when imeem was struggling and from when Vodafone was offering its music subscription service to Vodafone customers alone.
But, with many of the music services vying for the same bundling partner candidates, there may only be so much sea on which all their boats will rise.
Downloads have not given the industry “hockey-stick” digital growth, and streaming has a natural ceiling, said Mulligan, who advised conferences delegates to start offering a brand new packaged music experience including artwork, lyrics, band chats and other engagement in one format that people will pay for.