84% of Brits Think £10-a-month Is Too Much for Unlimited Streaming…

Almost half of all Britons listened to illegally downloaded music last month, according to a new survey by music streaming serviceBloom.fm – and 84% of those questioned said that £120 a year for a premium streaming subscription (the typical cost charged by services such as Spotify and Deezer) is too expensive.

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When asked if they had acquired music from an illegal online service, 49% admitted to do doing so. Those who did were also less likely to use legal music services.

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Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) deemed music too expensive and claimed they would buy more of it if it was cheaper, while only 13% said they believed music was fairly priced.

In addition, 81% of those surveyed said they listened to fewer than 200 tracks in a typical month, and Bloom.fm suggests that an unlimited music streaming service is “unlikely to appeal to them”.

However, somewhat contradictory to that claim, 61% of respondents said they had experienced instances where the artist they were looking for was unavailable on the service they were using – and when this happened, 46% gave up on that artist and listened to an alternative, while 70% looked for the artist on YouTube, and 14% turned to illegal services.

It’s worth pointing out that Bloom.fm, which commissioned the survey, is a company with vested interests in publishing such results. The streaming service, which launched in January 2013 on iPhone, offers free ad-funded genre and artist-based radio stations and subscriptions startingf at just £1 a month.  Bloom.fm lets you “borrow” 20 tracks at a time, by downloading them to your mobile phone, and trade them for others when you “get tired of them”. For £5 a month you can “borrow” 200 tracks at a time.

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So does this mean that streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer should lower their prices? Not necessarily.  Last week, Norway reported that the country’s music revenues were up by 17 percent, largely due to an explosion in streaming subscribers for WiMP and Spotify, services that charge a similar price in Scandinavia as in the UK.

This mirrors the success of streaming in Sweden, where around 10% of the population subscribes to a streaming service (mainly Spotify) and sales are up by 14 percent so far this year. Both countries have also registered a decrease in illegal downloading.

In other words, if the 13% that believe music is fairly priced could be converted to subscribers paying £10 a month for unlimited streaming (the equivalent of about two pints of beer in the pub), the UK could experience a similar overall increase in revenue from recorded music as Sweden.

It remains to be seen, however, how this would financially affect those who actually create the music.

43 Responses

  1. Richard Stefan

    As a DJ considering the horrible McMusic quality of artists today they are right …it is too much

    • Pinko

      Who says that you have to listen to the mainstream artists of today? With such a subscription, you get access to almost everything that has ever been made, so the choice is yours. Personally I think it’s a great deal, and you could also just get the £5 computer only subscription. Either people are too cheap or maybe they just don’t care very much about music. For anyone who is interested in music and enjoy a broad spectrum of it, it is a great deal though. You don’t get that many hours of entertainment for such a low price anywhere else.

    • Visitor

      race to the bottom and the elephant in the room…
      Why Doesn’t Spotify Speak Out Against Ad Funded Piracy?

      • Pinko

        Why do you want them to do that? Do they themselves advertise on such sites? If they do, I suppose their efforts may actually be appriciated by the music industry. Making users of such sites aware of legal alternatives can’t be against their interest.

      • Pinko

        Mebbe their strategy and focus is to offer the consumers a better deal, than what the pirates are able to. I know that mainstream piracy will disappear tomorrow or next year, but they might not be as well informed. Perhaps they believe that carrots has been more successful than sticks, with a 85 percent reduction in piracy among subscribers to their streaming service.

        Anyway, what is actually the point of this nonsens? Do you want Spotify to make a statement that they renounce piracy websites and all their works? As for me, I do renounce them. Sometimes.

      • Visitor

        “Why Doesn’t Spotify Speak Out Against Ad Funded Piracy?”

        Because Spotify will die when we stop mainstream piracy.

        Streaming was a direct reaction to mainstream piracy.

        Remove mainstream piracy from the equation, and streaming will be the first casualty.

        • Stu

          I’m wondering about that: what do you think the teenagers who are growing up using YouTube as their music source rather than Spotify/etc will do? Just all switch to iTunes en masse?

          • Visitor

            Well, it looks like they didn’t have any problem switching to YouTube, en masse…

          • Visitor

            “what do you think the teenagers who are growing up using YouTube as their music source rather than Spotify/etc will do?”

            YouTube is not a music streaming site so it’s here to stay…

            And artists will continue to use it because it offers something unique:

            You can monetize everything — interviews, song previews, merchandise info, messages to fans, behind-the-scene videos, etc.

            Which means teenagers still will have their free juke-box when laws and enforcement catch up with technology and we get rid of mainstream piracy.

            But song previews will gradually replace complete songs, unless royalities are raised considerably.

            So yes, fans are going to pay for the music they love, just like they’ve done it for a thousand years.

            Music is one of the most valuable and enjoyable things in life. Stop mainstream piracy and people will pay you anything you want for a wonderful song.

          • Visitor

            YouTube is not a music streaming site

            Tell that to my speakers that are currently streaming music from YouTube.

          • Visitor

            You the majority of the world will simply accept having to pay hundreds of dollars for a limited resource when they were used to having access to an unlimited resource for free? Every year “mainstream piracy” continues, the more unlikely reversing it will be.

          • Visitor

            “You [think?] the majority of the world will simply accept having to pay hundreds of dollars for a limited resource when they were used to having access to an unlimited resource for free?”


            People need new music and they’ll pay whatever you charge.

            “Every year “mainstream piracy” continues, the more unlikely reversing it will be.”

            You couldn’t be more wrong.

            Wonderful new music is compelling, so seducing that people simply pay without thinking twice. Again — provided they can’t steal it without consequences, of course.

            Music is the closest you come to sex. History shows that people will do anything to have both.

          • Casey

            Actually, streaming had nothing to do with piracy. I remember well back in the early streaming days. Rhapsody, Yahoo, and Napster (the legit version) dominated the market. Countering piracy was not even mentioned. It was marketed more as a competitor to Satellite radio and an all-you-cat-eat alternative to downloads. It was a premium service. Only when Spotify came around did it really begin to be marketed toward pirates.

          • Visitor

            “Actually, streaming had nothing to do with piracy”

            Here’s how it works:

            Streaming is the direct consequence of piracy!

            No artist on the planet would ever give her work away for .005 — or less — if she could get .70.

            But she had to participate in the race to the bottom if she wanted to get at least a tiny amount of cash back to finance her next production.

            See, streaming was not only impossible in 1990 for technical reasons; it was also impossible because mainstream piracy didn’t exist.

            And it will be impossible again in 2020 — for the same reason.

          • Casey

            No, it isn’t. Rhapsody started offering streaming before piracy was anything like it was today. It was not a conquence of piracy. But you know what did exist in 1990? Piracy. Mainstream piracy. Using cassette tapes. Was mainstream piracy that existed in 1990, defeated? Not in the least. There is nothing stopping people from doing the same thing today. But it changed. Because piracy adapts to consumer habits. Calling something “mainstream piracy” refers only to what the most popular means of piracy is at that time period. Therefore mainstream piracy can never be defeated because the instance you eliminate one type of piracy another rises up and claims the title.

          • Visitor

            “But you know what did exist in 1990? Piracy. Mainstream piracy. Using cassette tapes.”

            Please Casey, don’t do this to yourself.

            Let me explain the situation:

            Small scale piracy has existed since Gutenberg. There’s no way we can eradicate it, ever.

            What we can do is to stop mainstream piracy.

            Mainstream piracy is a criminal activity that became possible because of increasing data transfer speeds in the late ’90’s.

            It gradually turned into a well organized and highly profitable criminal industry during the ’00s and cut music sales down by more than 50% from 1999 to 2012.

            Hope that helps.

          • Casey

            Our current piracy became widely popular once software for ripping music to PCs became easily available and often times preinstalled. The only thing it needed was a method of distribution. Hello Napster. It had nothing to do with internet speeds. Dialup networks were congested to the breaking point with pirates. T1s were slowed to a crawl. Believe it or not, people were willing to wait hours to download a single track, although if you downloaded 64kbps or 128kbps tracks then it didn’t take quite that long.

            Mainstream piracy is like saying mainstream music. Always changing. Napster was once “mainstream piracy” as was LimeWire. Mainstream piracy continues to exist and it always will. Calling is mainstream is nothing but a play on words. It is completely meaningless.

  2. Chris

    “Remove mainstream piracy from the equation, and streaming will be the first casualty.” – What utter nonsense.Streaming is the method the public want – so supply it and improve it and work out how to monetise them further by offering them a better experience. Even if ALL piracy disappeared overnight people still want to stream music so let them. They pay for it so let them.

    • Content

      Going forward if people want it they are going to have to pay the content creators.

  3. progress

    3 years ago, 65% of Brits said they would not consider paying for a subscription music service.

    Things change.

  4. Paul Resnikoff

    If this is reality, and it may be close to reality in terms of consumer reluctance to paying, the next question is: how do you deal with that reality?

    Muve Music tries to bury the subscription cost in a broader mobile plan; there are 1.7 mm subscribers in the US alone (though they are aren’t dedicated music subscribers keep in mind).

    Rhapsody says, ‘hey, if you’re not going to pay, you can’t play.’ And they’ve built a more modest subscriber base around that.

    Spotify has decided to play the biggest casino in the music industry right now, bettting that a gigantic herd of freemium streamers will become paying listeners over time. Huge bet, with $100s of millions on the line.

    Deezer is similar to this approach.

    Startups like Feedbands decide to focus on a rare growth area that is properly valued: vinyl. In markets like Japan, unexpected growth is only happening through physical innovation (yes, even on CDs…)

    On the artist side:

    Thom Yorke tries to steer fans towards better controlled, better paying platforms like soundhalo (or that’s what it looks like) to maximize revenues.

    Artists like Daft Punk give iTunes huge exclusives while holding out on Spotify, to maximize first week sales.

    Other artists de-emphasize the recording entirely, trying to focus on other areas like touring and fan ‘experiences’.

    I could go on and on.

    And what about YouTube? I’ve always thought there’s a gigantic low-cost opportunity for them, and of course, we keep hearing about YouTube Music ahead. It’s such a frustratingly sloppy experience right now, but it does have everything and it is free.

    • Jeremie

      I’d bet on YouTube more than on any other subscription-based music services.

      Other questions:

      Are people reluctant to pay for music or are they just allergic to recurring payments/subscriptions (so do I)?

      Why is iTunes still there after all these years (set aside all the marketing and strategy around Apple devices….etc)?

      Couldn’t it be because it’s a pay-per-download and not a subscription model?

      (which gives people a feeling of owning the content they paid for).

      Any business tries to set up commercial offers based on recurring payments nowadays, since it’s a secured source of regular cash – but do people really like / want to be subscribers?

      • Helienne

        But loads of people do happily subscribe – to cable and satellite television, and for a lot more than £10/$10 a month. And few seem to think that’s a problem even if they don’t watch much TV certain months, due to being on vacation etc.

        I started subscribing to a streaming service when they had a one-month-free promotion, and I ended up liking it so much that I continued even when I had to start paying. Having 20m songs at my fingertips is worth it to me, and I particularly like that I can cache playlists on my phone.

        I still buy CDs and the odd download. Granted, music is very important to me.

        • Yves Villeneuve

          People should take special notice of your last sentence as to the reason unlimited music access has fans. TV offers much greater value for the average entertainment consumer however. Radio offers a much greater value to the average music consumer than unlimited music access.

        • My Feet

          I am wondering, what motivates you to spend money on CDs and especially downloads, when you got everything available with the streaming service?

          • Visitor

            “what motivates you to spend money on CDs and especially downloads, when you got everything available with the streaming service?”

            That’s a weird question.

            We all like to own things. Libraries never prevented people from buying books.

            And most people like to support the artists they love.

            They know that’s the only way to make sure that the artist can afford to produce new music.

  5. Visitor

    85% of Brits think cars are too expensive and life’s too short. Guess what they’re gonna do about it.

    Here’s how it works:

    Consumers pay what they’re told to pay!

    Provided, of course, they can’t get away with stealing. If they can get away with stealing, they’ll take everything from you immediately.

    Now, the Brits have delivered the best bands in the world. So they know the value of music.

    Which is why they recently introduced an impressive range of anti-piracy measures. Here’s the latest from 3 weeks ago:

    “Following news earlier this month that UK police had begun sending threatening letters to torrent site operators, today the government has announced the creation of a brand new unit dedicated to cracking down on intellectual property offenses. The Intellectual Property Crime Unit at the City of London Police will be funded with £2.5m of public funds and is set to launch in September, targeted those said to be illegally profiteering on the back of content creators’ work.

    Earlier this month it became evident that UK police were becoming more involved in the music and movie industries’ fight against unauthorized online sharing.

    The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) at City of London police began sending out letters to torrent and other file-sharing sites warning their operators to shut down or face legal consequences.”

    Source: Torrenfreak, June 28, 2013

    But pirates are tough and they don’t give a sh!t, right?


    Here’s what Torrentfreak said about the situation last week:

    “The concept of centralized BitTorrent sites is vulnerable to pressure from outside, and with increasing enforcement efforts it becomes harder and harder to maintain. New domains are still easy to come by, but the hosting situation is already getting problematic”


    The Piracy Industry has never experienced anything like this before.

    So the good news is that you can stop asking consumers what they want to pay for this and that.

    History shows that they’ll pay what they’re told to pay as soon as stealing becomes risky and complicated.

    Wait and see UK music sales for 2013-2014…

    • Visitor

      We’re going full circle here with this comment.

      UK citizens were ripped off for years by a music industry that felt extremely happy charging £15 for a CD and it was only the advent of piracy that forced prices down.

      Those ridiculously high prices are still remembered by many as a justification for embarking on a life of piracy, don’t fall into the same trap again.

      • Visitor

        “it was only the advent of piracy that forced prices down”

        So what happens when we get rid of mainstream piracy? 🙂

        Again, consumers pay what they’re told to pay — provided they can’t get away with stealing.

          • Visitor

            Music Is Literarly Life. The Soul Can Not Live Without Music Much Like the Body Can Not Live Without Food.

          • M-D3

            Spotify & Deezer pile of shit anyway. And £ 10 a month is expensive for Mp3 listening format.

  6. Casey

    The key is not having them pay it directly. People look at the $10/£10 per month as an added expense if it is alone. The best way to overcome that is to bundle it. Hide it with another service, one they will gladly pay because the perceived value of that product is higher or companies have them convinced they have to pay more than they do.

    • Helienne

      This is one of the reasons Spotify has succeeded in Sweden (apart from it being, well, Swedish) – early on it became bundled with Telia’s mobile phone tariff.

  7. jw

    Spotify’s main problem right now is that there’s very little perceivable difference between free and premium. It essentially comes down to ads & mobile access, but consumers are used to hearing ads on the radio, & mobile carriers’ move away from unlimited data plans makes mobile streaming less attractive than it otherwise would be.

    The way the question is phrased seems to miss the point. I honestly believe you’d get different results if you asked, “Is £10/mo too much for an unlimited music streaming service with features x, y, & z?” The music itself is only one part of the product. It’s everything else that’s going to spur adoption, & maybe that won’t come until there’s more differentiation between free and premium tiers, which may not come until bandwidth increases (both wireless & wired), because it’s features/convenience/quality/etc that users are really paying for.

    It’s almost like saying, “Is £10 too much to see [enter band name here] live?” My response is going to be “What’s the venue like? What’s the sound going to be like? What’s the location? General admission or seated? What about parking?” I’d pay different prices to see the same band perform at different venues, & certain conditions could cause me to skip the show all together, even if it’s a band I really like.

  8. jw

    I disagree with the suggestion that a subscription service isn’t going to appeal to consumers who listen to less than 200 different tracks per month. Honestly that sounds like the sweet spot for subscription to me.

    If say say that’s 20 different albums, & maybe you have 16 you listen to each month & 1 new album you check out per week, that’s 52 new albums or 520 tracks per year. Are you going to pay $1.29 per track for that? Even at $8.99 per album, Spotify pays for itself many times over in that scenario, which is a reasonable one.

    Anyone who suggests that a user has to listen to more than 200 different tracks per month in order to find interest in a streaming service is clueless. Or else they’re just vastly exaggerating their potential subscriber base for their low level plans, which is how they’re trying to distinguish themselves from Spotify.

    The 20 song plan is stupid. If you listen to that little music, why even bother with a subscription? lol. Trying to sell a subscription to that type of person… that person is never going to give a crap that your service even exists. They’re inventing a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

    Why is anything this company puts out being taken seriously?

  9. Yves Villeneuve

    Here is the sweet spot:

    1.00 = average price of a song

    75 = average listens per song per consumer

    0.0133 = average price per listen

    10.00 = monthly subscription price

    750 (10 / 0.0133) = minimum listens per month to make this subscription financially viable for the rational human consumer.

    Good Luck!

    • jw

      I dunno where you’re getting that equation from.

      The minum listens per month for streaming to be as cost effective as downloading is monthly price divided by average price of a download per listen. So it’s just 10/0.0133=750 listens, not 750(10/0.0133)=570,000 listens.

      So if the average consumer needs to listen to 750 songs per month for streaming to reach the cost effectiveness of downloading (assuming 75 listens per download on average), that’s only 25 songs per day, or an hour & a half of listening.

      A quick google search reveals that teenagers listen to 2.5 hours of music per day, according to the New York Times (or at least they did in 2008). My commute alone is ~25 mins each way, that gets me more than halfway to 90 mins just listening to music in my car.

      If you were trying to make the point that premium streaming isn’t cost efefctive to the consumer, you actually proved the opposite.

      Also, you’re not factoring in the value of convenience & features.

      Another way to look at it is through the lens of discovery. $10 is appx the cost of 1 new album. If you listen to 1.5 new albums per month on Spotify, you’re essentially getting your money’s worth.

      • Yves Villeneuve

        I know it is 750 listens. I paraphrased the equation.

        You are assuming teenagers never listen to radio as their main source of music listening and discovery.

        You assume all teenagers are interested in spending time browsing 22 million songs to find what they want to listen, instead of socializing with friends and family, playing video games, watching TV and movies, playing sports, playing a musical instrument which they are likely to find more interesting as passtimes.

        • jw

          I’ll let you in on a little secret. Paragraphs mean multiplication in mathematics.

          People don’t spend time browsing 22 million songs to find what they want to listen to lol. People use Spotify the same way they used iTunes or the same way they used their iPod. lol. They have playlists or they just choose an artist. You can fill your Spotify “library” with all of the songs you had in iTunes, & you can scroll through your collection the same way you always could, no searching required.

          Have you even used Spotify before?

          I LOVE how the anti-piracy crowd was always like “People are downloading illegal mp3s like hot cakes! There’s more interest in music & self-directed music discovery than ever before!” & then Spotify launches & it becomes “That’s way too many songs! People aren’t interested in that many songs, they just want a few songs.”

          Spotify is, basically, the perfect product for anyone who illegally downloaded mp3s over the past decade & a half. And that’s a LOT of people. Have you seen those numbers, Yves?

          And you think everyone spends most of their time listening to the radio? Have you looked at how radio stations are doing lately? lol. Pandora, maybe. But terrestrial radio is falling off.

          • Yves Villeneuve

            Anyone who has illegally downloaded all their favourite songs can store them in iMatch/iCloud for equal convenience yet cheaper than a library of millions of songs they don’t like.

            Most people don’t like to do what music nerds do: test drive music for lengthy periods of time. Discovering through radio or their music nerd friends is plenty of effort for the average music consumer.

            Your wrong. The average music consumer does not need or want a library of 20 million unpopular songs, unless they have little qualms wasting money here and there and wherever, just to say they can afford anything.

      • Yves Villeneuve

        Simply put, to use unlimited access models usually means you are a music nerd. Nerds are by common definition a minority of the population.

  10. Peter

    I totally agree. I’m using a free music streaming site called Torch Music and it works perfectly, why would I want to pay for anything if I have that? I can create playlists with it and it’s synced with my phone so I can listen to music when I’m working out or driving. I love it!