Pay up: Paid streaming could overtake free in 2019, says new ERA report

Pay up: Paid streaming could overtake free in 2019, says new ERA report

Paid-for streaming is set to overtake free for the first time in 2019, according to new research from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

ERA’s figures show that 21.5% of people stream for free, while 20.6% pay to access platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer.

However, the numbers suggest that the trend could reverse before 2019 is out. CEO Kim Bayley, who starred on the cover of Music Week in July 2018, said that streaming “has made it fashionable to pay for music again”.

“Paid-for streaming has clearly yet to reach its full potential,” she added.

ERA’s figures show that more males pay to stream (24.3%) than stream for free (23.9%), and more 25-34 year-olds also choose paid-for (34.9%) than free (27.9%). The same applies to 35-44s (26.54% vs24.38%).

Ten years ago, popular opinion was that it was all over for the music biz

Kim Bayley, ERA

Bayley said: “Ten or 15 years ago, popular opinion had it that it was all over for the music business and people would no longer pay for music. These figures are a striking vindication of the innovation and investment of digital services.

“What is all the more remarkable, is that the likes of Spotify and YouTube also offer fantastic free services, funded by advertising. These figures suggest that music fans increasingly believe that the added features offered by paid-for services, and the curation which enables them to navigate literally millions of tracks, are definitely worth the money.”

The data is derived from ERA’s authoritative entertainment survey, which has quizzed a panel of 1,500 people on how they consume music video and games every quarter since 2014.

Overall, paid streaming has increased year-on-year by 2.3 percentage points, while free has decreased by 0.2 percentage points.

ERA CEO Bayley recently told Music Week that HMV – currently engulfed in rumours after going into administration late last year – is “a huge part of the industry”.

She has also said that music sets an example for other industries in the retail sector.

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