First published on http://www.theatlantic.com/
Yesterday Nielsen quietly released fresh figures on music sales, which showed further declines in digital downloads (down 12% over the past year) but huge gains for streaming services (up 42% over the same period). Those seeking a silver lining to this trend should look to Sweden for evidence that continued growth in digital platforms could actually see the overall music industry revenue pie return to growth globally. The penetration rate for streaming services in Sweden is the highest in the world, and the recorded music industry has been growing there, as people abandon piracy and adopt legitimate streaming platforms such as Spotify.
Of course, the annual cost of a Spotify subscription (about $120 a year) is more than double what most people are willing to spend on music, but this can be viewed as both a challenge for subscription-based models, and an opportunity for the music business to capture an increased share of consumer wallets.