Music Diary Notes: Survey Says – Ownership Remains Supreme!

Recently eMusic contracted Insight Research Group to try to get a sense of consumer feelings about music ownership. After all, bloggers like myself are constantly crowing about MOG and Slacker and Rdio and Pandora and Spotify and … well, you get the picture. Turns out, while there is plenty of interest in streaming …when it comes to money, people want to actually OWN their content. This is good news for folks like iTunes, Amazon and eMusic … and not so great for all the streaming companies I have mentioned.

Here are the conclusions:

Study results show that purchasing ‘music to own’ remains the primary way to acquire music online. Streaming complements and, in certain circumstances, is the catalyst to ownership.

Music ownership is a relevant, integral part of consumers’ lives and the way they prefer to experience music. 53% of all consumers who purchase music online buy digital music files to own. The security and flexibility that ownership provides is a crucial issue for the majority of consumers.

Streaming ‘music to rent’ does not replace owning music. Consumers use streaming to discover and listen to music to see if they like it before purchasing. Study results also indicate that few are willing to pay to stream; however, consumers readily use the free streaming sites available today. The consumers who do pay to stream are more likely to purchase files online.

Consumers predict that their future behaviors will mirror some of their current behaviors, with more streaming for free and buying to own, instead of paying for streaming sites.

The specific statistics are shown in the image at the top, but in case you can’t read them, here is the ‘general population’ (image at top is from ‘independents’, eMusic’s target audience):

Ownership Today
91% prefer to own music because it allows them to listen as many times as they want
89% prefer to own the music they like, rather than stream it
86% feel that ownership gives them security that their files will not disappear

Streaming Today
76% use streaming to discover music that is new to them, before they decide whether or not to buy
74% will stream music for free, but wouldn’t pay to stream
Only 13% pay to stream music online; 84% of consumers who pay to stream also purchase digital music files

Future Behaviors
79% do not think they will ever give up owning music and just stream it online
39% will store digital music files they own in a cloud-digital locker, so that they can listen to them anywhere
Only 14% will increase their use of paid streaming services

I definitely find those sentiments to be true. The one that really resonates with me is “will stream music for free, but wouldn’t pay to stream”. Most folks I talk to around work and friends have free accounts to Slacker and Pandora, but nothing paid. And while my kids like using my MOG account, they say that if they had to pay they would just buy more music instead. So it is unclear how deep these streaming services will penetrate the market.

What about you? What are your feelings on streaming music versus ownership?

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!