The End of The Music Store Experience

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Once upon a time going to a music store was an extraordinary experience. Consumers would spend hours browsing through records, appreciating their covers, discovering new artists from all over the globe, listening to full tracks or simply extracts of songs. Arriving home with new records ready to be listened to was the icing on the cake.

Decades have passed and that time is over. When was the last time you visited a music store, I mean a “sole music store”, to buy a single or an album? Can you even remember? No worries, neither do I. If you can remember: Respect. You truly are one of the nostalgic and loyal kind.

Behaviors of music consumption are now extremely different. New online distribution of music such as iTunes (now rather AppleMusic than iTunes) and Spotify have appeared following the digitization of music and modified the dynamics of an entire industry. Considering that music is so important to humankind that it can almost be considered a soft commodity, hardly anyone has escaped from this change.

In view of this new phenomena  MusicStats.org focused in investigating it through an online structured survey. One of the aims of that survey was to understand how listeners are currently purchasing music. The following results represent the views of 332 valid respondents.

What Did We Find? 

Do you even remember bookstores? These amazing cozy stores probably deserve an article just for them. And just for your information, luckily there are still a huge amount of bookstores all around the place. But for how long? The larger bookstores still sell music records, but about 58% of all respondents stated that they “Never” buy music there. 19%Rarely” go there for the sake of buying music and only 0.6% are “Always” going to bookstores to buy music.

On the second place of less used channels of distribution is the official artists website. Even though many artists pay a fortune to keep their website attractive and filled with tons and tons of content, nearly 55% of the respondents suggested they “Never” buy albums on such platforms. A little more than 19% at “Rarely” and only 9.6%Sometimes” buy the music on official websites of musicians. Only the small amount of 2%Always” purchase music from the artists website directly.

Thirdly, which is an interesting result, the possibility of an illegal download divided opinions. Exactly 50%Never purchase” their music through an illegal download source. A little less than 8% do use them “Rarely“, nearly 12% use them “Sometimes“, 11%Often” or “Always“. However, considering the ethical limitation of revealing to use an illegal downloading platform, results from this distribution stream should be interpreted with caution.

And here’s the distribution channel we were all waiting for: the “good old” music store. Well, 56% of all respondents stated that they “Never” or “Rarely” go to a music store to buy music. Honestly, I just find this sad. Only 2.4% stated that they “Always” go to music stores to purchase records.

In regards to online stores: 43.6% “Often” or “Always” purchase through online stores. And last, but definitely not least,: streaming services. Theoretically one can’t speak of a streaming service as a way of buying music. Using Spotify, Amazon Prime, Apple Music and whatsoever won’t let you “own” the music. But across many different industries, consumers are letting go of ownership and focusing each time more on consuming the value of products.

With that in mind the study showed that 32,5% of respondents “Always” use streaming to get the music they want, 22.6%Often” and only 16%Never” stream their music.

Now what? 

Considering the facts above it truly seems like the time of offline music purchase has sadly come to an end.

Bookstores are not even a considerable source for music for our respondents, neither are the traditional music stores. Music stores that only focus on selling music are about to become extinct.

Online stores, sources and streaming portals are on the rise and most likely will push traditional record/music stores off the streets, but maybe that’s just how it is.

All products that have become purely digital are suffering from the shift to a pure intangible state, and music is no exception.

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