Across a variety of formats, digital music is undoubtedly the most mature segment of mobile entertainment. Mobile devices are uniquely positioned to become a key platform in the music industry, given their ubiquity, connectivity and continual presence with the end-user.
That being said, the music industry itself continues to be plagued with difficulties, particularly as far as recorded music is concerned. Juniper Research found that the digital music industry will experience slow growth in revenue over the next 5 years, growing from $12.3 billion this year to $13.9 billion in 2019.
The latest global market study also found that a strong performance in the robust streamed music sector will largely be offset by decline in revenues from legacy services -- such as mobile ringtones and ringback tones.
Streaming Music in the Mobile Cloud
According to the market study findings, the worldwide digital music market will be characterized by consumer migration to cloud based services.
Juniper observed that offerings from pure-play music providers -- such as Spotify and Pandora -- will increasingly find themselves competing with personalized services from the leading OTT (over-the-top) players, including Apple and Google.
However, the report cautioned that piracy was still responsible for major revenue leakage, particularly in emerging markets, such as China, where only a small percentage of content is legally acquired.
Nevertheless, it pointed to instances where the industry had successfully reined in such activity, such as the government policy in Singapore that allows for the blocking of sites that contain infringed content.
Why Music Discovery Remains a Challenge
Looking to the future, Juniper argues that music consumption is likely to become a highly sociable activity -- with features such as music discovery and social media integration that connects music fans online.
However, finding ways to expand the pool of their subscribers and increase the ease of discovery remains a key challenge for all streaming music service providers.
Moreover, Juniper believes that smartphones and tablets will be the main platforms of growth, although digital music revenues on PCs will remain robust over the forecast period.
Additionally, emerging markets are expected to strengthen in terms of digital music consumption, as disposable income levels continue to rise and streaming music services expand into these regions.