subscriptions vs sheets

Spotify spotify spotify! So much buzz. Buzz buzz buzzzzz.

It’s just not that big a business.

It is a real business, yes. Subscription on-demand services are really useful for people who care about music and have disposable income, especially if the subscription can be used on a portable device. But for people who don’t care about music, they can put on free radio or a semi-random MP3 they got from a friend. For these people it’s same songs over and over again and so what.

There aren’t that many music fans with disposable income out there, so the business isn’t that big. Maybe there are 25 million people in the world who would pay $10 a month for the subscription. That’s a $250 million business globally.

That makes music subscriptions a quarter of the size of the sheet music industry. No matter how you work the numbers they stay in that range. Call it 100 million people and $20 a month, which is way beyond the point of realism, and it’s still only $2 billion. This isn’t nothing. It’s a good business. But it’s not going to take the recording industry back to the glory days, which is what all the hand-wringing is about.