Early data in America suggests that paid downloads are already declining, thanks to rapid ramps in streaming. But the question is whether streaming is merely eating downloads, or the entire recording industry lunch.
Which brings us to France, where ‘bad guys’ like P2P and cyberlockers are plunging, at least according to French industry group SNEP. But then again, so are paid downloads, CDs, and even streaming revenues. Which raises the obvious question: why is basically everything suddenly sliding downhill?
(abonnements = subscription; numerique = digital)
SNEP is blaming recent streaming declines on some ‘unusual’ events, like a temporarily-suspended YouTube deal that is now resuming. That may explain a lot, though there’s also the possibility that streaming simply isn’t growing at a meteoric rate anymore. And, still eroding paid downloads in the process.
All of which would be bad news for this bigger picture…
This above seems typical of many countries: breadwinning CDs are tanking, while digital and streaming are growing. The problem is that this freefall suddenly includes both physical and digital, particularly downloads on the digital side. In the latest period in France, for example, single downloads dropped 21 percent.
That pronounced slide offers another big strike against a seriously-flawed, three-strikes initiative, and suggests that streaming is playing a far stronger role in this ecosystem. Earlier, French major labels pointed to solid results from HADOPI, and a tendency for file-swappers to stop swapping after just one letter. But the growing question is whether this is a gigantic causality misread: sure, some threatening letters may be cooling some file-swapping, but the more likely explanation is that a lot of streaming is cooling a lot of downloading (free and paid).
Which brings to the romantic notion that streaming — ad-supported, paid, or otherwise — somehow complements and boosts paid downloading. Or, at least replaces lost revenues from free downloading. Perhaps that’s working in Sweden, but not working so well in countries like the US and France.