eMusic research says ownership of music still key

By | Published on Monday 19 September 2011


Download-based subscription music service eMusic last week published the results of research it commissioned, undertaken by the Insight Research Group, which seems to show there is still an appetite among many music fans to ‘own’ digital music, despite the growth of various all-you-can-eat streaming platforms.

Of course, eMusic is biased here, its subscription service offering permanent ownership of a small number of tracks per month rather than temporary access to huge amounts of music. However, I think it is fair to say that the assumption some make, or have made, that ‘access’ music services will eventually replace ‘ownership’ services is possibly overly simplistic, and actually there is room in the market for both.

Top line stats from the eMusic research, which questioned 1000 music fans (some eMusic users, some not), include that 91% said they preferred to own tracks because there were no limitations on listening, while 86% said they felt ownership offered more security, ie tracks aren’t likely to randomly disappear. 76% said they used streaming services to discover and sample music that they might then buy, and, presumably as a result of that fact, 74% said they wouldn’t pay to access streaming platforms.

Elsewhere, only 13% of those surveyed said they currently paid to access streaming services, and of those that did 84% said they continued to buy a la carte downloads too. Meanwhile 79% said they didn’t see themselves ever giving up downloading MP3s for keeps and relying on streaming services only.

Although we know the 1000 survey respondents were aged between eighteen and 64 years old, it’s not clear if there were any trends in responses depending on age. It wouldn’t be surprising to find that thirty-somethings plus, brought up with the perceived ‘ownership’ of music you got in the CD era, are more attracted to digital services which replicate that experience, while the Napster generation and younger, brought up to expect access to unlimited music from regularly replenished sources, are more attracted to streaming platforms.

Though, as I say, it still seems likely that in the long term both ‘ownership’ and ‘access’ services can co-exist, attracting different, and sometimes the same, parts of the market.