Artists, labels and music services alike continue to lament the fact that not enough free streaming subscribers are converting to the paid tier, yet the possible incentive to get those free tier customers to upgrade is being ignored by the different players along the product pipeline. Superstar albums continue to be released without the industry taking advantage of the considerable leverage that they bring with fans, which amounts to a missed opportunity to improve the health of the music industry.
What would be the perfect reason to upgrade? How about the ability to access the latest album by Radiohead, Drake, Kanye, Beyonce, Adele, Taylor Swift, or other superstar artist?
By making that new hot album available only on the streaming service’s paid tier, there’s a reason for the consumer to buy in (as we’ve seen with the upsurge of subscribers caused by latest albums from Beyonce and Kanye on Tidal). Although it would be better if a major release was available on every streaming platform for anywhere from two to six weeks before it migrates to the free tier, even an exclusive on a single on-demand platform like Spotify would work, as long as it was only available on the paid tier. Paid-only services like Apple Music could provide the same incentive by not having the latest release available during its free trail period, for instance.
That way, the artist, label, songwriters and publishers all get paid at the highest rate (and their complaints about the low payouts from streaming would diminish as a result), more consumers are turned into paying monthly subscribers, and the industry grows at a much faster pace.
Of course many of the current megastar release strategies are strewn with apprehension that equates to inaction. We may be in the last throws of the physical music business, but that segment still maintains a high-ticket and high-margin. Everyone wants that last surge of profit and no one wants to leave money on the table. But Spotify, who reportedly refused to window the latest Radiohead album on its premium tier, may be just as much to blame as well. [Read more on Forbes…]