Computer major HP appears to have found a solution. HP recently launched its ConnectedMusic platform. The service allows the user to access unlimited music for an annual subscription fee. Thus, you can download any number of songs you like across genres and languages, thereby making original music accessible at a very low and affordable price. For this platform, HP has tied up with Universal Music, the largest player in the music industry, and with Hungama Music for India specific content. I recently had the chance to get hands-on experience of Connected Music at an Indiblogger meet, and was really amazed by the superb quality of the sound and ease of use of the site. Furthermore, the streaming of music was really smooth even while listening it online and with a collection of over million songs, it is a treat for any music lover’s ears.
Do you buy original music? Pirated music rules the roast when it comes to the music market. According to an AC Nielson study, the global music industry is valued at about 40-45 billion USD. The sale of original music though is only about 1.3% of digital music being downloaded, causing enormous losses due to copyright infringement. Interestingly, several companies like Baidu prospered as a result of pirated music. Baidu is China’s leading search engine with more than 66% market share and one major reason for its popularity was allowing pirated songs in its search results. In case of India too, the situation is not much different. A quick look at the alexa ranking for pirated music sites like songs.pk indicate their tremendous popularity in the country.
Several strategies have been adopted by music companies in the past to address the issue. The most promising of these was to tie up with free music streaming sites. These sites paid a small percentage of the price to the music companies along with sharing advertisement revenues. The music companies believed that it will help push up sales and users will no longer prefer pirated music. It worked on the contrary. Listening to free streaming of music became a substitute to buying original tracks rather than curbing piracy.
Apple started a revolution of sorts through iTunes for the music industry as consumers could now download and own any particular track for $1. Consumers no longer needed to shell out their money for an entire album, thereby creating an incentive to buy original tracks. The success of this strategy was one of the primary reasons for the popularity of iPhone & iPod and gave Apple tremendous bargaining power while negotiating with music companies. Indian online retailer, Flipkart too tried to replicate this idea by starting its music site Flyte.com where a user can download an original track for INR 5(about 10 cents). The strategy has failed so far. Thus what worked in developed economies might not work in an emerging economy like India.
Just like cell phones, have evolved from communication specific to media centred devices, the PC and laptop industry also need to evolve to entertainment devices as they face increasing competition from the tablet market. HP, being the market leader in PCs and Laptops, appears to have identified the trend at the right moment.
It is estimated that more than 13 million songs worldwide are licensed by music companies to online digital music services. The total trade value of this market stands at about 4.6 billion USD (2011), while the losses for EU music companies due to piracy is expected to be 240 billion Euros (Period 2008-2015). Did you mark the difference and the quantum of losses? So it is indeed a positive sign to find industry leaders like HP and Universal music coming together to curb this menace. The music lover too stands to gain due to the enhanced quality of sound while also ensuring sustainability of the industry.
What kind of music will you prefer to listen in future?