How did you get into the industry?
I’ve wanted to be in the industry since I was 14. During breaks at school, I’d spend my time reading Donald Passman’s guide to the music industry. I’d highlight the shit out of ...
The streaming battleground has already taken over the office and the living room, now not even your car is safe.
Not for nothing did Spotify – who tend to know a thing or two about this stuff – flag in-car streaming as one area of potential growth ahead of their IPO. Major label execs also noted it as a sector to watch at their IFPI press briefing this week. After all, drivers are the one type of audience everybody involved in music loves: a captive one.
Even better, a captive one that can only consume entertainment with its ears, not its eyes.
Until relatively recently, in-car listening meant CDs or the radio and, as anyone who’s ever driven anywhere on a Bank Holiday Monday will know, those options can seem pretty limited when you’re sat on a stationary M25 for hours.
Streaming offers a potentially limitless, ever-changing soundtrack that could take you from road rage to bliss between a single junction. Add in voice control and it seems like a perfect solution, albeit one prone to backseat driver intervention.
Except that the bewildering array of in-car listening options, with huge variations between different makes and models, never mind the various DSPs, means that the full on the road streaming experience can still seem more complicated than negotiating the Hanger Lane Gyratory System during rush hour. And that’s before any issues with connectivity.
Deals such as Spotify's recent tie-up with Cadillac will help with that, and the music biz and the motor industry clearly see each other’s value, as that Paloma Faith Skoda ad shows. And the biz never let obstacles prevent it from offering a range of ruthlessly targeted options for listening at home, work or on public transport.
So streaming needs to put its foot down when it comes to finding a unified approach to in-car entertainment. But those in the CD compilations business and running drivetime radio shows also need to buckle up, because their once serene ride is about to get very bumpy…
Talking to execs about the future of physical music this week, one joked that we’ll soon need a CD Day to persuade consumers of the joys of the compact disc.
At least, I think they were joking. I am sadly old enough to remember trying to remain a hardcore vinyl buyer as the CD revolution swept the nation. Back then, it seemed like my loyalty to the format was ‘rewarded’ only by an ever-smaller selection and an ever-shoddier product, until the industry killed off the format completely (or so we thought at the time).
Now, you wonder if the reverse is true. Vinyl releases are, by and large, lovingly curated and high quality, even when it’s not Record Store Day. That's part of the reason why vinyl has become such a big part of the retail picture, and why so many consumers and music outlets have returned to the format. Many CD packages are also beautifully put together but, increasingly, some seem to view the format as an afterthought.
For now at least, CD player penetration amongst UK households surely remains much higher than that of, say, voice-controlled digital devices
The days of CDs dominating the sales figures may be gone. Indeed, the Q1 figures made sobering reading for anyone who relies on the format, with physical sales plunging 24.2% year-on-year, despite vinyl still being on the up. But the likes of Ed Sheeran and Rag’N’Bone Man have shown that, when a record is right, physical sales can still hit the highs, and deliver big revenues to boot.
Also, for now at least, CD player penetration amongst UK households surely remains much higher than that of, say, voice-controlled digital devices. And, while Spotify recently made a big play of targeting in-car streaming, there’s barely a motor out there – whether old banger or brand new hybrid – that doesn’t feature a CD player.
That’s a lot of people to forget about, before we even consider what the loss of a physical option might do to the gifting market. So, as you queue to get your limited edition RSD vinyl this weekend, spare a thought for the humble CD and maybe pick up a few while you’re in the shop.
After all, it will save us all the trouble of having to engineer a CD revival in a few years’ time…