Music Ownership: eMusic's Molly Neuman Looks at Consumer Motivations
For a large segment of music consumers, downloading music to own is something that's seen as music's past. But for an even larger share, owning and collecting is hugely important.
Compounding the issues at hand, streaming has taken on different meanings to today's consumers, including streaming your MP3 files to a device from the cloud, or streaming to your desktop via an internet radio station, a la Pandora or eMusic Radio. Streaming a term that's talked about in the industry today as the future of music, but what drives consumers to strong desire for ownership today?
Through recent research we've learned the different motivations behind consumers' desire to own music files instead of streaming them to rent. The reasons for consumers' desire to own their music include those that are more practical and those that are more emotional. The flexibility and security that owning music file provides is a practical reason (i.e. my files won't disappear if my subscription ends). Music buyers do not want to risk losing their collection if a service changes its terms or goes out of business; it would take a lot of time and money to replace most collections. Other reasons are more emotional, like the feeling of artist support (i.e. I'm supporting the artist more if I purchase a song or album and add it to my collection).
While the practical motivations behind ownership might be the main drivers today, the emotional motivations will make the most impact tomorrow. Especially for the more active and dedicated music fanswho are the most valuable type of consumersthe emotional feeling of supporting the artist is one of the main motivations to buy and own music. It's what pushes fans to buy the CD or other merchandise of an emerging artist after a performance. It's also behind vinyl's resurgence.
Ownership is art for many, not a science. A music collection is something that you've carefully crafted, take pride in and show off to your friends. A collection is something that's also composed of albums, not singles.
Even with today's endless options to stream personalized playlists, albums are what many artists want fans to experience, not just one singlea fragmented form of their work. It's not just because buying an album generates more revenue for the artist. For many artists, it's because owning an album allows a consumer to fully experience the artist's musical vision time and time again, and have it resonate on a deeper, emotional level.
That's something a streaming playlist can never replace, and why ownershipand the feeling it provides of artist support, collection, and experiencewill remain relevant for digital music consumers in the future.