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Posted Aug 9th, 2015 (5:25 pm) by Matt Felten
Grim Reaper
Grim Reaper
Music Player: 

Can competition be detrimental to an industry? In the music streaming business, the answer is abso-fucking-lutely.

Our entire capitalist system is based upon competition, a phenomenon we are drawn to because of the “survival of the fittest” instincts that have been burned into our species' genes over millions of years. If you and your clan are on top, you are more likely to survive, you reap larger benefits, and you are able to pass on more prosperity to the next generation. If you fall behind, you get trampled on and left in the dust.

Competition is exactly what makes capitalism a beneficial system for the consumer. When separate entities are selling the same product or service, and competing for the same money within a market, all parties work as hard as they can to get on top. The result? Higher quality products and services all around. Think about a real life business scenario where competition doesn't exist, for example, the cable industry. The only two real players are Comcast and TimeWarner, and as they both agree to not encroach upon one another's territory, competition no longer exists. The result? The two most douchey, hated companies in America, with a crappy product, awful customer service, and no regard whatsoever for the consumer. Why? Because they've created a market where they don't need to be better in order to get the same amount of money; no one else is there to try and take it from them by offering a better alternative (let's take a second to cross our fingers for Google Fiber).

So what makes streaming so different? Well, the result of competition is taking the exact opposite effect. Until recently, streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and TIDAL were offering the same product: access to essentially identical music libraries at the same price across the board, with cosmetics, branding, and UI as pretty much the only discerning factor. The thing is, they are NO LONGER SELLING THE SAME PRODUCT. In order to get a leg up on each other, these streaming services are making exclusive deals with artists so they can draw in their audiences to their service. This has been happening all over the place in recent months, with both Taylor Swift and Dr. Dre making exclusivity deals with Apple music, and Prince making all of his music, including his new album HITNRUN exclusive to TIDAL.

The result is that each respective service is devalued in some way or another. Say I want a ham and turkey sandwich, so I go to Subway. They say, “Sorry, we only have ham.” Seriously? I still want a ham and turkey sandwich, so I go next door to Quiznos and order the same thing, and they say, “Sorry, just turkey bitch!” Goddammit. Am I going to buy both sandwiches so I can have my ham and turkey? No! I'm going to choose one and eat it unhappily while I wonder what the fuck just happened.

Not only are these exclusive deals making services less valuable to the consumer, you're still paying the same amount of money for a now inferior service, unless you are absolutely obsessed with whatever artist the streaming service you use has exclusively contracted.

This is only the beginning. More and more artists will continue to go exclusive with streaming services, because they are making more money by doing so (why would they do it if they weren't). What we will end up with is a bunch of services that are fragments of what they used to be, but still demanding the same amount of money for their “exclusive content.” That's absolute horseshit, and it may spell the end for the streaming dynasties as it will come to a point where competition is hurting the consumer, which is unsustainable for any market. This will leave consumers with two choices: buy music directly from artists, or pirate it. Which do you think they will choose after having free (ad supported) or cheap access to so much music for so long?

Get your head out of your asses streaming services.

The reason streaming became so popular is because you could get almost EVERYTHING from the same place with a relatively cheap subscription. If that fails to remain true, streaming will be dead faster than you can say TIDAL, and the age of pirates will return.

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