Streaming subscription rates seem to be leveling off despite Goldman Sach’s prediction of it bringing in some $40 billion by the end of the next decade. That begs the question as to what comes next. Everyone on the supply side of music, from artists to record labels, would love to see a new music release format of some type that would make listeners pay a premium again, but that ship may have already sailed.
Some industry leaders who are paid to think ahead believe that there will be a new music release format coming soon though. At The Paley Center For Media in New York recently, Warner Music Groupâs global CEO Steve Cooper and Facebookâs Head of Music Business Partnerships & Development Tamara Hrivnak suggested that Augmented Reality (AR) could actually be what the industry has been waiting for.
âAugmented reality has the potential to be the next format for music, and the reason for that potential [is because] it puts fans at the heart of experiences, and itâs authentic,âÂ Hrivnak said. âItâs not about pre-produced content â itâs about something thatâs real, and happening in the moment.”
She revealed that Facebook is now testing new AR filters on its new Portal TV hardware that could potentially allow folks to âhave a lip sync battle with Nanna, where [you] look like a rap bad-ass and Nanna looks like a rocker. These kind of experiences really bring something different to the market in a way that celebrates music, but that isnât just about being top of the charts.â
Whether AR is actually the key to the next big thing or not, the industry is openly searching for another high-margin format as a new revenue source. The labels also want something that they have more control over, having seeded streaming distribution to the tech industry at the dawn of digital music.
As suggested before, once an end user gets used to getting a product for nothing or very little, it’s really difficult to get him or her to pay more for the same or similar product again. That requires something so new that there’s not comparison to what came before, while also making it very convenient to consume (a key feature that many overlook).
Will AR be enough for that to happen? I have my doubts, especially if there’s a premium cost involved.
Many times the best format ideas come from outside the music business and the business just adapts. Look for that to be the case for the next format as well.